Broccoli, or vegetables in general, isn’t entirely a subject that sparks interest in minds of most people. Indeed the unassuming vegetable has garnered quite a bad reputation among young folk who see it as repulsive. This, we feel, is a disgraceful way to look at such a storied and versatile plant.
Indeed, you may not think it but broccoli actually has quite the interesting backstory that many people don’t know about or isn’t often brought up in mass media. On top of that, broccoli has a host of health benefits that boosts the immune system and gives some of the most important vitamins and minerals.
For this very purpose, we have taken the liberty to list some of the most interesting facts about this singularly amazing vegetable.
A Brief history and name
The word Broccoli comes from the Latin word Brassica which means arm. The word bears a close resemblance to the word Braccio. However, the common meaning of the plant’s name comes from Italian, which means “ The flowering crest of a cabbage.” The plant itself grew and was cultivated along the Mediterranean coast, likely beginning as a form of wild cabbage, It was known to be a staple in Ancient Roman cuisines through the writings of Roman historians like Pliny the Elder.
When not busy with political resources, Thomas Jefferson was an avid grander who was curious about broccoli. In 1767, with a range of contacts in Europe, he imported some seeds from Italy and experimented with its growth in US soil and a host of other vegetables.
Though Thomas Jefferson was not the first to bring broccoli to the US, with records of its cultivation dating as far back as the 15oos, it was not until the 1920s that broccoli began to popularize. It was due in large part to Southern Italian immigrants bringing it over, along with the recipes of the many ways in which it can be cooked.
Growth and Harvest
Did you know that the best time to plant broccoli is during spring or fall? During these seasons, temperatures closely resemble the northern Mediterranean climate they are accustomed to. It is recommended that you plant it 2 weeks before the last frost.
Gardeners should allow for 100 to 150 days before harvesting broccoli. Other types of broccoli can be harvested as soon as 55 to 80 days. Be sure to cut, while the buds are still green in color and tight, around 5 or 6 inches to the stem.
If you do not harvest your broccoli, they will likely keep growing and growing, and pretty soon, you’ll begin to notice the formation of bright yellow flowers. Though no longer edible by this point, they are quite pretty to look at.
California is the largest producer of the crop among all the states in the US. Producing over 90 percent of the total US broccoli output, states like Arizona, Oregon, and Texas also produce a lot of broccoli in their own right. Most of the main broccoli growing and harvesting in the United States occurs in June through October. Overall, the US is the third-largest producer of the vegetable in the world, behind India, then China which is #1.
In 2020 alone, the United States generated around 875 million dollars in broccoli production, which amounts to about 2 million pounds of broccoli. A trend that has been steadily rising since 2018. 15%-20% of this is exported to other countries.
US-grown broccoli is shipped to numerous countries all around the globe. The main recipients of exported broccoli are the nations of Canada, Japan, and Taiwan — which are all long-time US trade partners.
Health Benefit of Broccoli
Broccoli has been labeled by many nutritionists as a superfood and with good reason. Apart from the other vitamins and minerals, it has been found the 100 grams of broccoli can carry as much as 89 milligrams of Vitamin C. Vitamin C is essential for promoting a robust immune system and is also needed to support other bodily functions.
Broccoli is an amazing source of antioxidants and fiber. Both of these things help hasten your metabolism and cleanse the body of any impurities. Fiber also aids in digestion and preventing inflammation of the colon. These same things might also be of use when lowering blood sugar and cholesterol level. Through this, it reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
This vegetable comes with doses of calcium which aids in strengthening our teeth and bones. It also has phosphorus, zinc, and vitamins A and C, which are great substances for ensuring healthy bones as well.
The Role of Sulforaphane
Sulforaphane: is a sulfur-rich compound that has quickly been getting a lot of attention for its health-beneficial properties. It can be found in vegetables like bok-choy, cabbage, and of course, broccoli. Though much study is still needed, Sulforaphane might be able to fight cancer cells and slow the aging process.
Through the results of Sulforaphane’s reaction to biochemicals found within our bodies, scientists are steps closer to possible unlocking the potential of broccoli as a treatment against the effects of age and illness.
Eating broccoli cooked is fine and nutritious enough by itself. However, if you are looking to acquire as much of the nutritional benefits as possible, then eating it raw is the way to go. It can be tossed into a salad or eaten in bits as a snack in between meals. You may soften it up by boiling it, adding your natural seasoning, and then adding it to whatever dish your heart desires.
A single article is not enough to enumerate the ways that broccoli can change your health for the better. Despite this, we certainly hope this article was able to give you all that you needed to know to make this super vegetable a staple in your diet. Your body will definitely thank you for it.