Our modern lifestyles expose us to loads of toxins every day. We are surrounded by toxins—right from the water we drink, to the air we breathe, to the food we eat, we are exposed to toxins from the environment, our home and the products we use. According to the CDC, over 80% of the diseases today are caused by our lifestyle and the environment.
Around 70% of the veggies and fruits we consume contain residues of pesticides, which disrupt the endocrine system and prevent the body’s efficient hormone production. The things we use in our everyday lives such as electronics, cleaning products, personal products, cosmetics and furniture, all contain chemicals that cause a variety of health problems.
Even the water we drink may be contaminated with chemicals and heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, arsenic, etc. All these aspects can create a huge toxic burden on our body and overwhelm it.
In fact, heavy metal toxicity can affect the functioning of the liver, lungs and brain. High levels of heavy metals in the body can affect the blood composition while reducing energy levels and in the long run, it can cause diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and even cancer.
Our diet is an excellent place to start the detox process and some foods can help to detoxify the body by flushing out the toxins. And, one such food is broccoli, which is not only a nutritional powerhouse but also has nutrients and antioxidants that can help to detox the body effectively.
Belonging to the cruciferous family like cabbage, kale, bok choy, collard green, turnips, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower, broccoli is a dark green tree-like veggie with a large flowering head, stalks and leaves, all of which can be eaten. There are different varieties of broccoli including:
- Calabrese Broccoli: Also, simply called broccoli, this is the most common variety and is named after the city of Calabria in Italy.
- Purple Broccoli: Purple broccoli is a variety that is shaped like a cauliflower and comprises many small flower buds.
- Sprouting Broccoli: The sprouting broccoli has several heads and thin stalks.
Broccoli can be eaten either raw or cooked and because of its rich nutrients profile, over the years, it has been categorized as a superfood that offers immense health benefits. Broccoli is a great source of protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, antioxidants and phytonutrients.
It contains vitamins A, E, C, K, B vitamins like B1, B6 and B9 (folic acid) and minerals such as potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, selenium and zinc and is very low in calories.
One cup of raw broccoli contains only 25 calories and a cup of cooked broccoli provides around 250% of the daily requirement of vitamin K that helps in improving bone health and blood clotting, 135% of vitamin C that supports collagen production and immunity, more than 40% of folate and 50% of chromium, a mineral that helps in regulating blood sugar and boosts metabolism.
It also provides more than 10% of the body’s daily requirement for vitamins A, E, B2 and B6 and essential minerals. Broccoli also contains ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), which is plant-based omega-3 fatty acids that help to improve circulation and also has anti-inflammatory properties.
Studies have shown that the humble but nutrient-dense broccoli is an excellent food that helps in natural detoxification and helps to eliminate pollutants and contaminants from the body. Broccoli has loads of fiber that help to detoxify the body via the digestive tract. The green veggie also contains isothiocyanates that help in detoxification at the genetic level.
Most importantly, broccoli contains the phytonutrients, glucobrassicin, glucoraphanin and gluconasturtiin and this powerful trio helps the detox process in the body, right from activating the contaminants to neutralizing them and finally flushing them out of the body.
Glucoraphanin belongs to glucosinolates, compounds that are found naturally in cruciferous veggies including in broccoli, which is converted by the enzyme, myrosinase into isothiocyanates.
The glucoraphanin contained in broccoli is a super antioxidant and has several health benefits apart from detoxification. When you eat raw broccoli, the glucoraphanin in the broccoli interacts with the myrosinase and creates sulforaphane, which in turn, activates the antioxidant system in the body that helps the body to prevent several conditions like:
- Preventing cell damage caused by oxidation during metabolism.
- Removing the electrophiles that damage the cellular processes and DNA in the body.
- Reducing inflammation in the body.
- Protection from damage caused by UV radiation.
In fact, studies have shown that consuming broccoli sprouts can help the body to detoxify airborne pollutants more effectively and enhance overall health. This is because broccoli sprouts are rich in sulforaphane, a sulfur compound, which stimulates the cells in the body to produce enzymes that can help to flush out the toxins and carcinogens from the body.
In a study conducted by John Hopkins University, comprising 291 Chinese adults belonging to Jiangsu, a province in China with very high levels of pollution, it was seen that consuming a broccoli-based beverage containing around 260 mg of glucoraphanin and 7 mg of sulforaphane for 12 weeks helped to eliminate higher levels of airborne pollutants as compared to the other group of participants who were given lime and pineapple juice.
It was seen that the rate of excretion of the carcinogen, benzene, increased by around 61% in people who consumed the broccoli-based beverage compared to the group receiving the placebo. And, during the trial period, the excretion rate of acrolein, an irritant, increased to around 23%.
In conclusion, broccoli is a super versatile vegetable that can be eaten in raw or cooked form. This nutrient-dense powerhouse, which is an excellent source of essential vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, protein and fiber not only offers numerous health benefits such as improving blood sugar, reducing inflammation, promoting heart health and boosting the immune system but is also an excellent way to detoxify the body and flush out heavy metals, chemicals and other contaminants from the body effectively, contributing to a healthier you.