I love broccoli. My mother often prepared it as part of dinner and it's been my go-to veggie ever since I was a tiny girl. Growing up with broccoli as a diet staple has therefore led me to take its impressive attributes for granted. The only things I really knew about it were that it is a green vegetable, it is very delicious whether prepared raw, steamed, with pasta or even in Chinese food, contains some vitamins (although I wasn't quite sure which ones), and is known to be very good for you. Recently though, I did some research on this little veggie and found out that there are tons of great reasons to love broccoli, making it a must for everyone’s diet! Here are some things that you may or may not have known about broccoli:
1. Broccoli originated in Italy off of the Mediterranean. It has been eaten there since the time of the ancient Romans in the 6th Century BC.
2. Broccoli is a member of the cabbage family, making it a cruciferous vegetable. It's name is derived from the Italian word broccolo, meaning the flowering top of a cabbage.
3. Want something high in Vitamin C but don't feel like eating fruit? Broccoli is very high in Vitamin C, making 1 cup of chopped broccoli the Vitamin C equivalent of an orange. One cup of raw chopped broccoli will give you your entire daily needed intake.
4. Broccoli is also very high in Vitamin A. Vitamin A helps fight cancer within your cells, as well as keep your eyes healthy and stave off glaucoma and other eye degenerative diseases. It also helps to promote healthy skin, break down urinary stones (a big issue with the summer heat and dehydration) and maintain healthy bones and teeth.
5. Broccoli is high in fiber. Not only in soluble fiber but insoluble as well. Since your body needs both types, it's great to know that broccoli is can fulfill both your needs.
6. Thomas Jefferson, one of the founding fathers of the United States, was a fan of broccoli, importing the seeds from Italy to plant at Monticello. He recorded planting the vegetable there as early as May of 1767.
7. Broccoli contains the flavonoid kaempferol. Kaempferol is an anti-inflammatory, helps fight against cancer and heart disease, and has been shown to be preventative in adult diabetes onset.
8. Although it may be known as the "golden state", California produces 90% of our nations broccoli. Perhaps we should rename California as the "broccoli state."
9. Broccoli has also played a key part in the James Bond film series. Well, sort of... An Italian-American, Mr. Albert R. Broccoli, is credited with bringing Ian Fleming's James Bond to film. Mr. Broccoli produced all of the Bond Films made during his life and his heirs currently help continue on the legacy.
10. While the US enjoys their broccoli with the average American eating over 4 pounds a year, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, USDA, we are only the 3rd largest producer world wide. China, producing over 8 million tons a year, comes in at the number 1 spot.