Broccoli: Your New Best “Slimming” Buddy

by Marixie Ann Obsioma
Published on June 16, 2021 and last updated for accuracy on June 27, 2021

Losing weight and getting ourselves in tip-top shape are some of the important goals that many of us have to ensure a long and healthy life. As you work hard to become better physically, keep in mind that achieving your dream weight requires a lot of time, effort, and hard work.

Apart from engaging in helpful exercises, implementing a proper diet is essential to weight loss, specifically contributing 80 percent to the outcomes, compared to 20 percent for exercise(1). Simply put, what we eat reflects how we look, so it’s important to eat the right kinds of foods, taking in more fruits and vegetables.

If you are specifically looking into achieving weight loss, one of the most hearty veggies that aids in this is broccoli (1).

A Natural Weight-Loss Food: What’s In It?

Broccoli stems from the cabbage family, which are collectively recognized as cruciferous vegetables; therefore, it is recognized as an edible green plant (2)(3). Interestingly, its name was derived from the Italian word “broccolo,” which translates to a “cabbage sprout (4).”

Broccoli is packed with a lot of essential vitamins and nutrients that are good not only for weight loss, but for your overall health and wellness. Whether you consume it raw or cooked, the different nutrients in broccoli can help you achieve a fit and better you.

1. Packed With Weight-Loss-Friendly Fibres

For one, broccoli supplies you with an abundant amount of fibre (5). For every one cup (or 91g) of broccoli, you receive at least 2.4g of fibre (6), or 5 grams of fibre, when cooked (7). Since this component takes the longest time to be completely digested, you get satiated for long. It helps to control your cravings and binge less – making it easier for you to monitor your weight and achieve weight loss.

Dietary fibre delays the secretion of ghrelin – the hormone responsible for feelings of hunger (4). Thus, you feel full most of the time after consuming it. This feeling of fullness can also be attributed to the fact that fibre absorbs water and expands (7). Plus, it also slows down the metabolism of sugar, preventing blood sugar spikes that causes hunger (4)(8), which eventually prevent excess sugar from becoming stored as fat (7).

That said, 5 grams of fibre from one cup of broccoli contributes to 20 percent of women’s daily intake of 25 grams of fibre, and 13 percent for the 38 grams that men need (7).

2. High Amounts of Calcium

Broccoli is also a good source of calcium. Although it’s not of the same amount as a glass of milk, broccoli is a significant calcium source for those who do not eat or drink dairy products (3). When it comes to weight loss, calcium is responsible for a process known as thermogenesis, which involves small increases in the body’s core temperature that boosts metabolism and burns fat. Moreover, calcium also aids in weight loss by stimulating the breakdown stored fat and preventing the development of new fat cells (6). It also binds dietary fats in the intestine to prevent its absorption (1)(7).

A cup of cooked broccoli contributes to six percent of the daily calcium intake. In addition, a 2004 study by the Obesity Research revealed that individuals who take in low-calorie diets that include dietary calcium from dairy products or calcium supplements have lost more weight than those who consume a low-calcium, low-calorie diet (7).

3. Enriched With Essential Antioxidants

Broccoli is also concentrated with vitamin C, which works effectively as a powerful antioxidant and a healthy choice for good skin complexion and immunity (1). Vitamin C found in broccoli promotes weight loss by synthesizing carnitine – a compound that is essential metabolizing fats into energy when exercising (6)(7). As mentioned in a 2007 article from the Journal of Nutrition, people who take in higher amounts of vitamin C are more likely to burn fat and lose weight during exercise (7).

Moreover, it is also known that vitamin C, along with another antioxidant named beta-carotene, have been linked to lowering the risk of conditions like cataracts and heart disease (3).

Other than that, broccoli also contains flavonoids, which aid in the efficient recycling of vitamin C. Plus, is also enriched with other antioxidants like zeaxanthin, beta-carotene, and carotenoids lutein (2).

4. Low in Calories

When trying to lose weight, the first step to take will always be to cut out excess calories that are mostly found in most snacks and beverages. It is known that broccoli has 34 calories per 100 grams, while a bowl of cooked broccoli contains around 55 to 60 calories. (1)(4).  Moreover, the USDA claims that one cup of raw broccoli comes with only 30 to 35 calories, making it a low-energy dense food. On that note, energy density refers to the number of calories per gram of food, and low energy-dense food like broccoli helps you maintain weight even though you consume more of them because you can do so without exceeding your calorie budget (7).

This fact makes broccoli as an excellent choice when trying to lose weight while getting rid of extra calories.

5. High in Water Content

Similar to watermelon, broccoli is made up of 90 percent of water (1). Apart from that, it also contains important nutrients like vitamin K, vitamin A, folic acid, and calcium. As part of the cruciferous family, broccoli is considered the most hydrating magnesium-rich food that has compounds that supports its anti-inflammatory functions (9).

Thus, consuming broccolis on a daily basis can help you stay on top of your daily fluid intake levels and stay hydrated (10).

6. Good Source of Chromium

Although more research is needed to prove the role of chromium in weight loss and carbohydrate metabolism, one of the best sources for this essential nutrient is broccoli. A cup of cooked broccoli contains 22 micrograms of chromium, that is two-thirds of the recommended intake every day. That said, it is advised that this mineral should be taken in very small quantities (7)(11).

Apart from regulating insulin activity, chromium also aids in increasing muscle mass while reducing fat mass and carbohydrates (11). In one study, 19 individuals who were healthy yet overweight were given a drink that contains amino acids and chromium picolinate during breakfast. The results showed that there are smaller blood sugar spikes on the said individuals compared to those who did not consume the drink (12).

Important Health Benefits of Broccoli

Apart from being a powerhouse support for a toned body, broccoli also offers other essential health benefits for different body functions. As a very nutritious green veggie, broccoli supplies you with more nutrients than other vegetables (3) and helps to keep the entire body healthy.

Broccoli is enriched with essential components for defense and immunity. That said, it prevents many chronic diseases that are often associated to being overweight, such as diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension (5)(3).

The other benefits of this healthful vegetable include:

1. Cancer Prevention

Health organizations have emphasized cruciferous vegetables like broccoli as an essential food, recommending their consumption several times a week. This is due to its linkage to lower rates of cancer. In this case, broccoli naturally possess two important phytochemicals, namely isothiocyanates and indoles (3).

Furthermore, researchers from the School of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore took note that broccoli specifically contains a type of isothiocyanate known as sulforaphane, which increases the activity of the body’s enzyme group that is responsible for destroying cancer-causing agents (3).

Moreover, broccoli comes with properties that decreases estrogens, which are usually brings about cancer in the body. As shown by research, broccoli is also known as incredibly suitable in the prevention of breast and uterus cancer (2).

2. Pollution and Toxin Defense

Broccoli is an effective anti-pollution food. The main component that facilitates this is actually the vegetable’s stub, rather than its sprouts. However, as stated in a study from China, the sprouts help in fighting air pollutants, but more specifically for the root (2).

When consuming broccoli, a phytochemical present known as glucoraphanin instigates a chemical reaction wherein it attaches to a harmful benzene compound, disintegrates it, then recharges the body to expel it faster before even inflicting damage on the cellular level (2).

As broccoli is rich in fibre, it also expels toxins through one’s digestive tract. In addition, its antioxidants and phytonutrients help in the overall detoxification in the body, removing unwanted contaminants from the body. Interestingly, broccoli contains isothiocyanates that help in the detoxification at the genetic level (2).

3. Skin and Eye Care

As broccolis are enriched with vitamins like C, A, E, and B complex, as well as minerals like beta-carotene, phosphorous, zinc, and copper, it facilitates in eye health and skin immunity. As the powerhouse of nutrients and antioxidants, this green vegetable is great for maintaining healthy, glowing skin that is protected from infections. With its healthy supply of vitamin K, as well as folates and amino acids, broccoli also helps to maintain skin immunity (2).

Other than that, its rich nutrients maintain eye health by protecting the eyes against cataract, and muscular degeneration, and even go as far as repairing damage caused by harmful radiations – which are much-needed nowadays given that most of us spent a lot of time on using our phones constantly (2).

4. Heart and Bone Health

A study conducted by Nutrition Research revealed that regular consumption of steamed broccoli reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease by decreasing the amount of cholesterol in the body. Plus, a US study found that increasing vegetable intake, especially cruciferous ones like broccoli, can help to reduce the risk of heart disease (13).

On one hand, broccoli is also rich in vitamin K – an essential nutrient for blood clotting and maintaining the bone health and strength (13). Plus, it contains high levels of other nutrients like calcium, zinc, phosphorous, and magnesium, which makes it well-suited for people of all ages (2).

5. Allergy and Inflammation Reduction

According to a study published in the Food and Function journal, broccoli can defend your body against allergy-causing pollutants (14). A diet that includes diet can help you with allergic reaction that are accompanied by situations like runny nose, itchy eyes, and sinus headaches.

This nutritious vegetable is enriched with a compound that reduces irritation and inflammation of allergy – kaempferol. That said, it is also an important component of a hypoallergenic eating plan, especially in lessening the impact of allergens on the intestinal tract, reducing chronic inflammation (15)(16).

Moreover, broccoli is a great anti-inflammatory that is usually used to slow down joint damage that is associated with osteoarthritis. According to a study at the University of East Anglia in 2013, sulforaphane found in broccoli aids in people suffering from arthritis as it stops the enzymes that brings about joint destruction by preventing the key molecule that is said to cause the inflammation (16).

In addition, broccoli also contains omega-3 fatty acids and isothiocyanates that aids in inflammation regulation (16).

6. Anti-Ageing Ingredient

As mentioned earlier, vitamin C found in broccoli contains several antioxidant properties; thus, it is beneficial for anti-ageing. This vitamin helps to eliminate free radicals that causes ageing and skin damage, specifically reducing wrinkles, fine lines, and skin concerns like acne and pigmentation (2). It also improves the look and feel of your skin, and maintains your hair and nails. Thanks to its support for collagen formation, it’s no secret that this vegetable can help you look more youthful with a beautiful, healthy-glowing skin (6)(15).

That said, healthy skin doesn’t only come from toners, moisturizers, or other beauty products in the market. The rich combination of the vitamins A, C, and E found in broccoli is enough to undo skin damage caused by pollution or sun exposure (15).

Some Delectable Ways to Implement a Weight-Loss Broccoli Diet

When implementing a strict plan for your diet, you also need to ensure that you are getting the nutrients that your body needs. The key to a healthy meal plan is to have a low-fat, low-calorie diet that is packed with enough nutrients without requiring more food consumption and unwanted extra calories (3).

How you prepare broccoli affects how much nutrients you get and, more importantly, which ones. Usually, people consume broccoli for its anticancer benefits (16). That said, here are some of the best ways you can incorporate broccoli in your weight loss diet plan.

1. Broccoli Juice/ Smoothie

A fresh broccoli juice or smoothie works well to detoxify the body and eliminate health risks at the main level (2). As a matter of fact, it is a convenient way to get your daily dose of much-needed nutrients. Keep in mind that when juicing broccoli, you can combine it with flavors like apple, orange, grape, and cucumber. However, you can also keep it as a plain broccoli juice to guarantee that all the nutrients are still intact and bio-available (4).

2. Roasted Broccoli

Many people would prefer roasted vegetables than consuming them raw, and it goes the same way with broccolis. When roasting your broccolis, you can try doing so with salt, olive oil, or even spices that you like (6). That way, you can turn this nutritious vegetable into a delicious snack.

3. Broccoli Salad

This type of preparation is a great way to preserve the broccoli’s nutrition-packed benefits, and can be an awesome addition to any picnic or party foods that you make. To be more creative, you can try adding some dried fruit, shredded carrots, almonds, or a low-fat dressing. To ensure the best time to consume this dish, allow it to sit in the fridge until the vegetable has softened (6).

4. Broccoli Soup

This variant of preparing broccoli is best enjoyed with the whole family. You can have this low-fat recipe for a silky, smooth delicacy with a creamy consistency without any cream added. At less than 300 calories for each serving, you can enjoy its deliciousness without the guilt (17). However, if you are lactose intolerant, you can substitute the milk for cheese and coconut milk as a vegan alternative. To ensure the right texture, you can blend it in a blender and serve hot (6).

However, there are some methods that you should avoid when cooking broccoli. Concerning this, a 2007 study at the University of Warwick pointed out that boiling broccoli can actually reduce its cancer-fighting enzymes, causing the biggest losses of cancer-fighting nutrients (16).

Moreover, the researchers also researched the effects of microwave cooking, steaming, stir-fry cooking, and boiling on certain types vegetables, including broccoli. The results revealed that unlike boiling, microwaving for up to 3 minutes, steaming for until 20 minutes, and stir-frying for up to five minutes caused no significant loss of cancer-preventive enzymes (16).

Despite the fact that eating a raw broccoli is a good way to maintain its entire set nutrients, it could potentially irritate your bowels and produce gas (16).

Food for Your Thoughts: Broccoli as Weight-Loss Companion

It is evident that broccoli is a powerhouse vegetable packed with the complete set of nutrients to supply your weight-loss-friendly diet. On top of that, implementing a healthy diet plan with broccoli is a great way to lose weight by increasing your fibre intake while reducing the extra calories and fat.

This nutritious vegetable is a reliable aid in weight loss, given its unique combination of nutrients and fat-burning components that supports the breakdown of fats and carbohydrates. That said, the list of broccoli benefits goes on, making it one of the most popular cruciferous vegetables worldwide (6).

Not only will you achieve lesser weight, but you can also ensure a healthy and fit you. Start adding broccoli to your diet now, and see the results for yourself!

References:

  1. https://www.pinkvilla.com/lifestyle/health-fitness/broccoli-weight-loss-heres-how-green-veggie-works-great-body-506293
  2. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/health-fitness/diet/11-health-benefits-of-broccoli/articleshow/30843390.cms
  3. https://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/food-nutrition/natural-foods/natural-weight-loss-food-broccoli-ga.htm
  4. https://food.ndtv.com/food-drinks/broccoli-for-weight-loss-why-the-cruciferous-wonder-is-your-best-aid-for-weight-loss-1851138
  5. https://betterme.world/articles/5-day-broccoli-diet-plan/
  6. https://www.healthifyme.com/blog/heres-why-you-should-add-broccoli-in-your-diet/
  7. https://www.livestrong.com/article/243898-broccoli-weight-loss/
  8. https://www.healthline.com/health/blood-sugar-spike#:~:text=Blood%20sugar%20spikes%20occur%20when,is%20a%20rising%20health%20problem.
  9. https://www.bupa.co.uk/newsroom/ourviews/ten-water-rich-foods-hydration
  10. https://ontarioequestrian.ca/hydrate-your-body-with-high-water-content-fruits-and-vegetables/#:~:text=The%20most%20hydrating%20magnesium%20rich,compounds%20which%20are%20anti%2Dinflammatory.
  11. https://www.webmd.com/diet/foods-high-in-chromium#1
  12. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/288177#benefits_and_risks
  13. https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/health-benefits-broccoli
  14. https://bestlifeonline.com/foods-get-rid-allergies/
  15. https://www.lifehack.org/369784/amazing-benefits-of-broccoli-5-refreshing-recipes
  16. https://www.livescience.com/45408-broccoli-nutrition.html
  17. https://www.errenskitchen.com/creamy-broccoli-soup/
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