Broccoli is a beloved cruciferous vegetable to many. A close cousin of cauliflower and in the same family as cabbage, onions and Brussels sprouts, it provides a very unique taste and texture and is chock full of nutrition for type 2 diabetics.
Broccoli Nutrition Facts
- Broccoli is super low in calories–with only 55 in 1 cup cooked–yet still packed with many nutrients
- Broccoli is a very rich source of vitamin K (245% daily value), vitamin C (135% DV), chromium (53% DV) and folate (42% DV)
- Broccoli is high in fiber (5 grams in 1 cup) and many other vitamins and minerals
- Broccoli is considered a “very low glycemic index” food with a value of 15
- Broccoli is one of few vegetables that contain omega-3 fatty acids (200 mg ALA in 1 cup)
Broccoli (1/2 cup) 78g
Calories: 27 | Total Fat: 0.3g | Sat Fat: 0.06g | Poly: 0.1g | Mono: 0.03g | Total Carbs: 5.6g | Fiber: 2.6g | Net Carbs: 3g | Protein: 1.8g
Calcium: 31mg | Iron: 0.5mg | Magnesium: 16mg | Phosphorus: 52mg | Potassium: 229mg | Zinc: 0.3mg
Vitamin C: 50.6mg | Thiamin: 0.04mg | Riboflavin: 0.09mg | Niacin: 0.4mg | Vit B6: 0.1mg | Folate: 84ug | Vit B12: 0mg | Vit A: 1207IU | Vit E: 1.1mg | Vit D: 0IU | Vit K: 110.1ug
Health Benefits of Broccoli
- Vitamin K is essential for blood clotting
- Vitamin C is an antioxidant that protects the body against free radical damage, resulting in improved immunity and skin health
- Many components (vitamins, minerals and antioxidants as well as phytochemicals–flavonoids and carotenoids) in broccoli contribute to its anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer benefits
- Broccoli contains a unique substance called “sulforaphane” that also protects against cancer
- Glucosinolates in broccoli help aid detoxification processes
- Fiber in broccoli, along with other components, help aid digestion and reduce risk for heart disease
- Omega-3 fatty acids are great for the heart and boost brain health and mood as well
Research on Broccoli Specific to T2 Diabetes
- Through its antioxidant capacity of reducing oxidative stress, broccoli has been shown to help improve outcomes in type 2 diabetes.
- Sulfur containing vegetables are protective against vascular complications in type 2 diabetes.
- Broccoli has been shown to be cardioprotective and effective at improving cholesterol as it reduces inflammation.
- Components in broccoli and cruciferous vegetables generally have demonstrated effectiveness in cancer protection.
- Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli have positively impacted the gut microbiota and help reduce bacterial infection in the stomach.
Points for Consideration
As with all cruciferous vegetables, broccoli is sulfur-containing, and therefore, gas-producing. While this is not a health concern, it can be uncomfortable or socially awkward if you eat too much. If you don’t eat broccoli often, start slow to introduce it – so your body will adapt. Boiling broccoli significantly reduces its sulfur content.
Additionally, broccoli is very high in vitamin K–a vitamin effective at clotting blood. If you are on coumadin (warfarin) or other blood thinners, it is important to keep your vitamin K intake consistent from day to day, otherwise you will render your medication ineffective.
Broccoli and Diabetes Conclusion
Broccoli is very low in calories, low in carbs, and high in fiber. It is, in fact, 90% water and has an amazing amount of nutrition packed in such a small calorie package. It is an excellent inclusion for any diabetic diet.
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Broccoli in the Kitchen
Choose broccoli with rich deep green color and firm, crisp stalk and florets – no yellow, no sprouts, no soft spots or blemishes.
Additional varieties to your standard head broccoli include broccoli rabe and broccolini.
Store broccoli in an airtight bag in the refrigerator crisper for up to 14 days. Wash and cut broccoli only prior to cooking as moisture will speed up spoilage. Broccoli can be blanched, then frozen up to one year.
- Steam broccoli (best for vitamin C retention) for 5-10 minutes until crisp tender.
- Boil broccoli 5 minutes.
- Stir fry broccoli over low-medium heat 3-5 minutes.
- Microwave broccoli in 2 tablespoons water for 5 minutes, stirring halfway through.
Note: if cooking the stems as well, these may take longer to cook than florets so giving them a head start will help to even out doneness.
Broccoli is best cut with a large sharp knife.
To cut broccoli, slice just below the head so that most of the florets separate.
At that point you can continue to cut right at the point where the florets are held together until you get the sizes you prefer. The stem can be used as well. If very woody, peel off the outer layer, then slice into smaller pieces.
Here's a short video to demonstrate broccoli chopping techniques.