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What is Broccoli?

With more health benefits per bite than any vegetable, broccoli takes the prize as the most nutritious vegetable around. Delicious raw or cooked, this vegetable boosts the flavor and nutrition of dozens of broccoli recipes. In this article, we'll talk about growing broccoli, selecting and serving broccoli, and the health benefits of broccoli.

About Broccoli: Broccoli is a member of the cabbage, or cole, family. It grows 11/2 to 21/2 feet tall and looks a bit like cauliflower. Broccoli will grow in most areas of the United States at one season or another, but it is not a suitable crop for very hot climates.

Common Name: Broccoli Scientific Name: Brassica oleracea; Botrytis Group Hardiness: Very Hardy (will survive first frost)

Health Benefits of Broccoli: For years, parents have been right: Eating your broccoli is a good idea. This hearty, tasty vegetable is rich in dozens of nutrients. In fact, it packs the most nutritional punch of any vegetable.

Health Benefits of Broccoli: Broccoli is the centerpiece of the Italian Broccoli with Tomatoes recipe. Broccoli's noteworthy nutrients include vitamin C, vitamin A (mostly as beta-carotene), folic acid, calcium, and fiber. While the calcium content of one serving doesn't equal that of a glass of milk, broccoli is an important calcium source for those who don't consume dairy products. Calcium does more than build strong bones. Research shows that this mineral may play a role in the control of high blood pressure, and it may work to prevent colon cancer.

Beta-carotene and vitamin C are important antioxidants that have been linked to a reduced risk of numerous conditions, including cataracts, heart disease, and several cancers. Broccoli is a fiber find. Not only is it a rich source, but half of its fiber is insoluble and half is soluble, helping to meet your needs for both types of fiber. But the story doesn't end with broccoli's rich array of nutrients. Broccoli provides a health bonus in the form of protective substances that may shield you from disease. Botanically, broccoli belongs to the cabbage family, collectively known as cruciferous vegetables.

Health organizations have singled out cruciferous vegetables as must-have foods, recommending we eat them several times a week. Why? They are linked to lower rates of cancer. Like all cruciferous vegetables, broccoli naturally contains two important phytochemicals -- indoles and isothiocyanates. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore isolated from broccoli an isothiocyanate, called sulforaphane, that increases the activity of a group of enzymes in our bodies that squelch cancer-causing agents

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