Is Broccoli Good For You?


Broccoli or scientifically known as Brassica oleracea var. Italica is a cruciferous vegetable belonging to the brassica family, along with cauliflower, kale and cabbage.51

Broccoli is known for its bitter taste. It is often depicted as the children’s biggest enemy in cartoons or animation. Their faces will scrunch with disgust if their parents try to feed them broccoli. But why do parents in the cartoon want their children to eat broccoli so bad? There must be something good about eating broccoli, right? 

This article will tell you the answer to the question; Is broccoli good for you? 

Varieties of broccoli

There are three commonly grown types of broccoli: Calabrese broccoli, sprouting broccoli and purple cauliflower.1 They can be eaten raw or cooked. Cooked and raw broccoli both provide nutritional benefits for you.52

Nutrition facts

Broccoli has many health benefits due to its various nutrients. Here are broccoli’s nutrition facts:


Broccoli has high water content. 100 g of broccoli contains almost 90g of water.46


The total carb content in 100g of broccoli is very low, which is only 6.64 g.46


Protein is essential to maintain optimal health, growth and development of the body.45 Broccoli contains a high level of protein. 100g of broccoli provides 2.82 g of protein.46


Fiber constitutes many health benefits. It can improve gut health, aid weight loss and prevent heart disease.47,48 100g of broccoli contains 2.6g of fiber.46


100g broccoli contains low level of sugar which is only 1.7g.46


100g broccoli has low level of fat which is 0.114g.46


1 medium stalk of broccoli have 45 calories.49 

Vitamins and minerals

Broccoli consists of various vitamins and minerals. For example, vitamin C is found in broccoli. Vitamin C, an antioxidant, protects our immune system, helps fight against disease, and can lower cholesterol levels.50 100 g of broccoli provides 89.2 milligrams of vitamin C.46 

Broccoli also has a high vitamin K.17 Vitamin K is vital in promoting bone health.17 Furthermore, broccoli contains calcium and magnesium, which is crucial for development of healthy bones.17,18

Other plant compounds

Broccoli is also rich in various plant compounds. For example, broccoli contains sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol that help in fighting cancer.4, 19

A high level of beta carotene and lutein is also found in broccoli, which is believed could improve eye health.31

Health benefits of broccoli

Preventing cancer 

One of the critical components in broccoli is a phytochemical known as sulforaphane, which has numerous cancer-preventive properties that are important in fighting cancer.4 Several studies demonstrated the benefits of eating broccoli in protecting you from various cancer such as prostate cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, and skin, oral and urinary bladder cancers.4 Also, a recent study has shown an association between consuming cruciferous veggies, including broccoli, with a lower risk of developing stomach cancer.5 

So, how might it protect us from developing cancer? Yuanyuan et al.2 suggested that sulforaphane in broccoli can prevent the growth of cancer cells in our body. It also plays an essential role in eliminating airborne toxins such as carcinogens from cigarette smoke.6 Researchers believed that adding sulforaphane as an additional treatment after the conventional chemotherapy for cancer treatment can yield a better result.3

Protecting heart 

According to World Health Organization (WHO), cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide.10 Broccoli contains several nutrients and organosulfur compounds which are beneficial in fighting against cardiovascular disease.7 As mentioned before, it contains phytochemicals that are also important to slow the progression of atherosclerosis.8 A study elucidated that eating broccoli might prevent the risk of developing atherosclerosis in older adult women.11 A meta-analysis also demonstrated it can reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.9

Improving brain health 

Sulforaphane found in broccoli, as mentioned before, can prevent cancer. However, preventing cancer is not the only sulforaphane can do. It also can protect against brain disease.

The production of new neurons (neurogenesis) is crucial for learning and memory.12 Therefore, the dysregulation of neuron production can lead to many neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease.12 Sulforaphane can improve brain health by increasing the production of new neurons.13 It also plays a part in reducing oxidative stress.15 Oxidative stress can lead to brain damage and contribute to neurodegenerative diseases such as Huntington's disease and Parkinson's disease .16

Broccoli also contains a compound called glucosinolates that can improve our memory and learning ability.14 Glucosinolates also might lower the risk of developing neurological conditions.14 Also, you can blame glucosinolates for the bitter taste in broccoli.14, 53

Strengthening bones

Ask yourself, what kind of food or drink can help strengthen your bones? Maybe milk is the first thing that comes up in your mind. Broccoli can help as well. It is rich in essential nutrients that are believed to be important for healthy bones and might prevent bone-related disease.17 

Broccoli contains vitamin K and calcium, vital nutrients that can strengthen bones.17 It is also a good source of magnesium necessary to maintain healthy bones.18

Supporting hormonal balance

The risk of developing breast cancer is associated with a high estrogen level.21 Therefore, maintaining a healthy level of estrogen is essential. 

Broccoli contains a plant compound called indole-3-cabinol (I3C) that will break down into diindolylmethane (DIM).19 A research suggested that DIM might play a role in regulating estrogen levels in our body.19 DIM controls estrogen activity and alters the risk of developing breast cancer.19

Reducing cholesterol levels

Broccoli is a good source of soluble fiber.20 Soluble fiber is an important component that can lower the level of cholesterol in our body.20 Previous studies using broccoli sprouts, Brassica extracts or mixed vegetable interventions have reduced low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDC-C).22,23,24

What is LDC-C? LDC-C, also called “bad cholesterol”, constitutes most of our cholesterol.25 High level of LDC-C can increase the risk of developing heart disease and stroke.25 A study by Armah et al.26 involving 130 volunteers also demonstrated that the level of LDC-C in participants is significantly lower after consuming 400 g of broccoli for 12 weeks. 

Supporting the immune system

An abundance of vital nutrients is found in broccoli, such as vitamins, minerals, isothiocyanates, and, most importantly, sulforaphane.27 A study reported that sulforaphane in broccoli can help our immune system fight against cancer cells.27 Vitamin C found in broccoli is also vital to boost the immune system of children, adults and elderly people.28 Thus, researchers suggested including broccoli in your diet.28

Improving eye health

WHO has recently reported that up to 1 billion people worldwide suffer from a visual impairment which can be prevented or treated, and the number is increasing.29 Nutrition is crucial to maintain or improve our eye health.30 Broccoli contains a high level of carotenes (beta-carotene, lutein) and vitamins (A, B, C, E) that is good for eye health.31 A study reported that broccoli consumption can lead to better vision and eye care.31 

However, it is crucial to know how to properly cook your broccoli. Fry, steam, boil or even microwave might destroy the properties of broccoli.31

Reducing inflammation

Inflammation is important in the fight against infectious disease and wound healing.32 However, chronic inflammation can harm your health.33,34 

A study reported that sulforaphane in broccoli florets can act as an antioxidant, decreasing inflammation.35 Sulforaphane reduces the molecules responsible for inducing inflammation in your body, which are pro-inflammatory cytokines and nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kB).35, 36

Maintaining a healthy digestive tract

Broccoli contains dietary fiber and phytonutrients, including glucosinolates, that are important to maintain a healthy digestive tract. A previous study by Yanaka37 demonstrated that a daily intake of 20g of broccoli sprouts for 4 weeks improves bowel habits in the participants. It also regulates and improves our gut bacteria which is important for healthy digestion.38,29

How to add broccoli in your diet?

There are several fantastic ways to add broccoli to your diet. 

The quickest and most straightforward way to serve broccoli is by boiling or steaming your broccoli. Tossed your baked or steamed broccoli with freshly ground black pepper, add seasoned rice vinegar, and voila! You make an excellent dish. Here is an example recipe as guidance. 

Maybe the sight of broccoli alone is not that appetizing. Well, you can mix your chopped broccoli with other colourful vegetables and make vegetable stir fry. You can include vegetables of your choice, such as carrot and red pepper. Add some salt and soy sauce or any sauce that you like. Then, mix well. You can try this recipe.

Roasted broccoli stem is also another delicious way to enjoy broccoli. This recipe might be handy for you. 

Is broccoli safe for everyone?

Broccoli is high in fiber. It might cause excessive gas and bloat in some people. In people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), consuming fiber might cause discomfort and bloat as well as exacerbate symptoms.40,41 However, further studies are needed to find the relationship between fiber intake and IBS.

Side effects of eating too much broccoli

Well, broccoli is not that bad after all (except for the taste, maybe). Maybe you are not a broccoli’s biggest fan, but surely broccoli has so much to offer you. But, it doesn’t mean you can eat as much broccoli as you want. 

Broccoli or any cruciferous veggies has naturally occurring goitrogens that might suppress thyroid hormone production.42,43 Therefore, excess consumption of broccoli can lead to hypothyroidism.42 Symptoms of hypothyroidism are fatigue, weight gain and feeling depressed.44 Scientist suggests soaking, boiling, washing and cooking your broccoli to lower the level of goitrogens in your veggies.42


Despite its bitterness, broccoli contains several good nutrients for your health. You can eat broccoli in several ways according to your liking. However, be aware of how much broccoli you consume. Eating too much broccoli can harm your health. 


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This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Sentia Racha Keyulong

Bachelor of Science - BSc, Psychology, The University of Edinburgh, Scotland, Scotland

Sentia is an experienced Research Assistant and Medical Writer.

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