You may frown when a steaming bowl of broccoli is placed upon the dinner table, but choosing to enjoy more of this vegetable you love to hate may save your life. Scientists have discovered that there is more than just a multitude of valuable nutrients inside steamed broccoli. One molecule, released only by the process of steaming, can inhibit carcinogens inside the body.
Steamed broccoli contains approximately 109 calories, no fat, 22 grams of carbohydrates and 7.4 grams of protein per 2 cup serving. There is no need to worry about large quantities of sugar with this non-starchy vegetable, as two cups contains a mere 4 grams. Most of the carbohydrates in steamed broccoli can be attributed to its high quantity of dietary fiber, providing 10 grams for every two cups.
Broccoli is considered to be a top-pick when in comes to good nutrition. Steamed broccoli retains a large amount of these nutrients including 202 milligrams of vitamin C, 125 milligrams of choline, 125 milligrams of calcium, 209 milligrams of phosphorus and 914 grams of potassium, all in a 2-cup serving. The list of vitamins and minerals in steamed broccoli in lesser, but still comparatively high quantities include: thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamins B-6, A, K and E, folate, iron, magnesium, sodium, zinc, copper, manganese, fluoride and selenium.
Steamed vs. Raw
Unlike some fruits and vegetables, steaming actually enhances the nutrient profile of broccoli. Two cups of raw broccoli has a lower quantity of nutrients when compared to the steamed version. While all the nutrients are present, the heat breaks molecular bonds that normally inhibit the release of valuable nutrients and antioxidants. Be careful though, steaming broccoli can be a delicate process. If you overcook it, you could destroy the nutrient value significantly.
One more reason to steam your broccoli before consumption is its anticarcinogenic properties. Scientists at the University of Illinois discovered that lightly steaming broccoli for about three to four minutes until its texture is, "tough-tender," releases a sulfur molecule known as sulforaphane. Sulforaphane is a natural cancer-fighter that is bound in raw broccoli by a protein that often goes uncleaved in the gut when consumed raw. Careful steaming ensures this bond is broken to release the valuable nutrient, therefore enhancing its value.
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Based in Florida, Danielle C. Tworek covers health news and medical topics for various online publications. She is a certified personal trainer with the National Academy of Sports Medicine, as well as a Schwinn indoor cycling instructor. Tworek holds a Bachelor of Science in human nutrition.