Resembling little trees, broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable consisting of a stem that ends in a compact head of purplish-green to dark green flower buds. It belongs to the brassica family and is closely related to the cabbage and cauliflower.
Broccoli originated from the eastern Mediterranean and Asia Minor. From there, the vegetable spread to Italy in the 16th century and then throughout northern Europe in the 17th century. Its name stems from the Italian word “broccolo” which means the flowering top of a cabbage. Thomas Jefferson loved broccoli so much that he imported the seeds from Italy to plant at his home in Virginia. He recorded planting broccoli at Monticello in May of 1767.
California is the top producer of broccoli in the United States with 90% of crops coming from the Golden State. The average American eats more than 4 pounds of broccoli a year. It’s no wonder, it’s not only incredibly healthy, this superfood can be enjoyed in a wide variety of dishes from stir-fries to salads.
The healthy broccoli is at its peak in nutrients when it’s not overcooked. Steaming broccoli helps to bind together the vegetable’s fiber components with the bile acids in the body’s digestive tract, which ultimately helps to lower cholesterol levels, according to WH Foods. Broccoli also contains a compound called sulphoraphane which is an anti-cancer agent. One cup of raw broccoli contains more than 135% of our daily value of vitamin C and more than 115% of vitamin K! It’s also a good source of dietary fiber, potassium, folate, vitamins A and E, and beta carotene.
It’s available year-round in California so go out and get some of this awesome superfood of superfoods! Your body will thank you.