|Cultivar group||Italica Group|
|Origin||From Italy (2,000 years ago)|
Broccoli is a plant in the cabbage family, whose large flower head is used as a vegetable. The word broccoli, from the Italian plural of broccolo, refers to "the flowering top of a cabbage". Broccoli is usually boiled or steamed but may be eaten raw and has become popular as a raw vegetable in hors d'œuvre trays. The leaves may also be eaten.
Broccoli is classified in the Italica cultivar group of the species Brassica oleracea. Broccoli has large flower heads, usually green in color, arranged in a tree-like structure on branches sprouting from a thick, edible stalk. The mass of flower heads is surrounded by leaves. Broccoli most closely resembles cauliflower, which is a different cultivar group of the same species.
Broccoli was derived from cultivated leafy cole crops in the Northern Mediterranean in about the 6th century BCE. Since the Roman Empire, broccoli has been considered a uniquely valuable food among Italians. Broccoli was brought to England from Antwerp in the mid-18th century by Peter Scheemakers. Broccoli was first introduced to the United States by Italian immigrants but did not become widely known there until the 1920s.
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||141 kJ (34 kcal)|
|- Sugars||1.7 g|
|- Dietary fiber||2.6 g|
|Vitamin A equiv.||31 μg (4%)|
|- beta-carotene||361 μg (3%)|
|- lutein and zeaxanthin||1403 μg|
|Thiamine (vit. B1)||0.071 mg (6%)|
|Riboflavin (vit. B2)||0.117 mg (10%)|
|Niacin (vit. B3)||0.639 mg (4%)|
|Pantothenic acid (B5)||0.573 mg (11%)|
|Vitamin B6||0.175 mg (13%)|
|Folate (vit. B9)||63 μg (16%)|
|Vitamin C||89.2 mg (107%)|
|Vitamin E||0.78 mg (5%)|
|Vitamin K||101.6 μg (97%)|
|Calcium||47 mg (5%)|
|Iron||0.73 mg (6%)|
|Magnesium||21 mg (6%)|
|Manganese||0.21 mg (10%)|
|Phosphorus||66 mg (9%)|
|Potassium||316 mg (7%)|
|Zinc||0.41 mg (4%)|
|Link to USDA Database entry
Percentages are relative to
US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
Broccoli is high in vitamin C and dietary fiber; it also contains multiple nutrients with potent anti-cancer properties, such as diindolylmethane and small amounts of selenium. A single serving provides more than 30 mg of vitamin C and a half-cup provides 52 mg of vitamin C. The 3,3'-Diindolylmethane found in broccoli is a potent modulator of the innate immune response system with anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-cancer activity. Broccoli also contains the compound glucoraphanin, which can be processed into an anti-cancer compound sulforaphane, though the benefits of broccoli are greatly reduced if the vegetable is boiled. Broccoli is also an excellent source of indole-3-carbinol, a chemical which boosts DNA repair in cells and appears to block the growth of cancer cells.
Boiling broccoli reduces the levels of suspected anti-carcinogenic compounds, such as sulforaphane, with losses of 20–30% after five minutes, 40–50% after ten minutes, and 77% after thirty minutes. However, other preparation methods such as steaming, microwaving, and stir frying had no significant effect on the compounds.
There are three commonly grown types of broccoli. The most familiar is Calabrese broccoli, often referred to simply as "broccoli", named after Calabria in Italy. It has large (10 to 20 cm) green heads and thick stalks. It is a cool season annual crop. Sprouting broccoli has a larger number of heads with many thin stalks. Purple cauliflower is a type of broccoli sold in southern Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom. It has a head shaped like cauliflower, but consisting of tiny flower buds. It sometimes, but not always, has a purple cast to the tips of the flower buds.
Other cultivar groups of Brassica oleracea include cabbage (Capitata Group), cauliflower and Romanesco broccoli (Botrytis Group), kale and collard greens (Acephala Group), kohlrabi (Gongylodes Group), and Brussels sprouts (Gemmifera Group). Chinese broccoli (Alboglabra Group) is also a cultivar group of Brassica oleracea. Rapini, sometimes called "broccoli rabe" among other names, forms similar but smaller heads, and is actually a type of turnip (Brassica rapa). Broccolini or "Tender Stem Broccoli" is a cross between broccoli and Chinese broccoli.
In North America, production is primarily in California. The seasonal average f.o.b. shipping-point price for cauliflower in 2004 was $34.00 per 100 pounds ($0.73/kg) according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, USDA.
|Top ten cauliflowers and broccoli producers—11 June 2008|
|People's Republic of China||8,585,000||F|
|No symbol = official figure, F = FAO estimate
Broccoli is a cool-weather crop that does poorly in hot summer weather. Broccoli grows best when exposed to an average daily temperature between 18 and 23 °C (64 and 73 °F). When the cluster of flowers, also referred to as a "head" of broccoli, appear in the center of the plant, the cluster is green. Garden pruners or shears are used to cut the head about an inch from the tip. Broccoli should be harvested before the flowers on the head bloom bright yellow.
|Close-ups of broccoli florets||Sicilian Purple Broccoli||A leaf of a Broccoli plant|
|Broccoli flowers||Romanesco broccoli (actually a cauliflower
cultivar), showing fractal forms
|Broccoli in flower||Steamed broccoli|
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Broccoli|
- PROTAbase on Brassica oleracea (cauliflower and broccoli)
- List of North American broccoli cultivars, USDA/ARS Vegetable Laboratory