President Bush the elder snubbed it. Your mom probably made you eat it, wisely explaining how good it was for you. If you learned to love it, you’ll gain satisfaction from the following facts about this powerful vegetable. If you still don’t love it, maybe it’s time to try it again with a different preparation. Either way, it’s hard to argue with the nutritional goodness packed inside these miniature green trees that are in season now.
- Broccoli is named for its appearance; the word is derived from the Latin word brachium, which means arm or branch.
- Broccoli was not grown commercially in the United States until the 1920s, when the D’Arrigo brothers, Italian immigrants, began planting it in San Jose, California, in 1922. They started a business called “Andy Boy,” which to this day remains a significant supplier of the vegetable.
- Broccoli is rich in dietary fiber, minerals, vitamins (especially A and C), antioxidants and folates; it contains protein and is very low in calories, at only 34 calories per 100 grams. Just half a cup of cooked, chopped broccoli packs the same amount of vitamin C you would find in half a cup of orange juice.
- Studies have found that sulforaphane, one of the antioxidants found in broccoli, helps protect the eye from damage caused by the sun’s ultraviolet rays. This same antioxidant prevents tumor growth and kills stomach bacteria that lead to ulcers and stomach cancer, research shows.
- When buying broccoli, you should look for tightly packed heads that are a deep, dark green or even slightly purple; the stalks should be smooth and firm. Avoid broccoli that has open or yellow buds on top, that is wilted or that feels soft or mushy.
- Broccoli can be eaten raw, steamed, microwaved, boiled or even stir-fried. It complements most dishes well and can be substituted for or mixed with other vegetables in your favorite recipes.
—By Jessica Cline