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There's little doubt Catherine de Medici of Tuscany loved broccoli. In the mid-14th century, Catherine is said to have arrived in France to her betrothed, King Henry II, bearing armfuls of Italian vegetables, foremost her beloved broccoli.
For centuries, this green cousin of the cabbage has been prized for its top crowns of edible green flower buds and meaty green stems. But it’s through modern science that we are only now learning how incredible this cruciferous vegetable actually is; some people might even say “enchanted”.
One cup of raw broccoli has a whopping 82 mg of antioxidant vitamin C and 1,357 IUs of vitamin A (beta-carotene), 2.6 grams of fiber and protein--for muscle and digestive health--and it does it all in a mere 25 calories. Add that it’s a good source of folate, an essential vitamin for all women of childbearing age that helps prevent birth defects, and you have a pretty remarkable food.
But hold on, it doesn’t stop there. Broccoli gets even more mind-blowing.
This amazing vegetable has anti-cancer properties, an ability to inhibit arteriosclerosis, lower the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration, and reduce your risk of stroke. Broccoli has also been shown to prevent easy bruising, help lower bad cholesterol, control hypothyroidism, and may even have protective properties against developing multiple sclerosis, to name just a few of its health benefits.
Some of broccoli’s magic comes from kaempferol, a strong antioxidant that helps to prevent oxidative damage of our cells, lipids and DNA.
Several studies have confirmed that kaempferol acts as a chemo-preventive agent inhibiting the formation and proliferation of cancer cells, particularly in connection with ovarian, lung, breast, prostate, colon, and pancreatic cancers.
Recent research has also shown the ability of kaempferol to lessen the impact of allergy-related substances on our body. This kaempferol connection may help to explain the unique anti-inflammatory benefits of broccoli. Scientists believe this connection should also open the door to future research on the benefits of broccoli for a hypoallergenic diet.