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For other uses, see Broccoli (disambiguation).
Broccoli and cross section edit.jpg
Species Brassica oleracea
Cultivar group Italica Group
Origin From Italy (2,000 years ago)[1][2]

Broccoli is an edible green plant in the cabbage family whose large flowerhead is eaten as a vegetable.

The word broccoli comes from the Italian plural of broccolo, which means "the flowering crest of a cabbage", and is the diminutive form of brocco, meaning "small nail" or "sprout".[3] Broccoli is often boiled or steamed but may be eaten raw.[4]

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 branching out from a thick, edible stalk. The mass of flower heads is surrounded by leaves. Broccoli resembles cauliflower, which is a different cultivar group of the same species.

Broccoli is a result of careful breeding of cultivated leafy cole crops in the northern Mediterranean starting in about the 6th century BC.[5] Since the Roman Empire broccoli has been considered a uniquely valuable food among Italians.[6] Broccoli was brought to England from Antwerp in the mid-18th century by Peter Scheemakers.[7] Broccoli was first introduced to the United States by Italian immigrants, but did not become widely known there until the 1920s.[8]


Broccoli, raw (edible parts)
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 141 kJ (34 kcal)
6.64 g
Sugars 1.7 g
Dietary fiber 2.6 g
0.37 g
2.82 g
Vitamin A equiv.
31 μg
361 μg
1403 μg
Thiamine (B1)
0.071 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
0.117 mg
Niacin (B3)
0.639 mg
0.573 mg
Vitamin B6
0.175 mg
Folate (B9)
63 μg
Vitamin C
89.2 mg
Vitamin E
0.78 mg
Vitamin K
101.6 μg
47 mg
0.73 mg
21 mg
0.21 mg
66 mg
316 mg
33 mg
0.41 mg
Other constituents
Water 89.3 g

Percentages are roughly approximated using 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 (DIM) and small amounts of selenium.[9][unreliable medical source?] A single serving provides more than 30 mg of vitamin C and a half-cup provides 52 mg of vitamin C.[10] DIM is a potent modulator of the innate immune response system with anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-cancer activity.[11][unreliable source?][12][unreliable source?] Broccoli also contains the compound glucoraphanin, which can be processed into an anti-cancer compound sulforaphane, though the anti-cancer benefits of broccoli are greatly reduced if the vegetable is boiled.[13] 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.[14][unreliable medical source?][15][unreliable medical source?] Sulforaphane, another compound in broccoli has been shown to stop over-rapid aging.[16][unreliable medical source?][17]

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.[13][18] However, other preparation methods such as steaming,[18][19] microwaving, and stir frying had no significant effect on the compounds.[13]

Broccoli has the highest levels of carotenoids in the brassica family.[20] It is particularly rich in lutein and also provides a modest amount of beta-carotene.[20]


Broccoli plants in a nursery

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), Brussels sprouts (Gemmifera Group), and kai-lan (Alboglabra Group).[21] Rapini, sometimes called "broccoli raab" among other names, forms similar but smaller heads, and is actually a type of turnip (Brassica rapa). Broccolini or "Tenderstem broccoli" is a cross between broccoli and Chinese broccoli. Beneforté is a variety of broccoli containing 2-3 times more glucoraphanin that was produced by crossing broccoli with a wild Brassica variety, Brassica oleracea var villosa.[22]


Cauliflower and broccoli output in 2005
Top ten cauliflowers and broccoli producers—2012
Country Production (tonnes) Share (%) Footnote
 People's Republic of China 9,500,000 44.67 F
 India 7,000,000 32.92 F
 Italy 414,142 1.95
 Mexico 397,408 1.87
 France 344,414 1.62
 Poland 306,776 1.44
 United States 303,450 1.43
 Pakistan 224,000 1.05 F
 Germany 176,692 0.83
 Egypt 171,088 0.80
World 21,266,789 100 A
* = Unofficial figure | [ ] = Official data | A = May include official, semi-official or estimated data
F = FAO estimate | Im = FAO data based on imputation methodology | M = Data not available

Source: UN Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO)[23]


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).[24] 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.[25]

While the heading broccoli variety performs poorly in hot weather, mainly due to insect infestation, the sprouting variety is more resistant, though attention must be paid to sucking insects (such as aphids), caterpillars and whiteflies. Spraying of bacillus thuringiensis can control caterpillar attacks, while a citronella vase may ward off whiteflies.[26]


Mostly introduced by accident, "cabbage worms", the larvae of Pieris rapae, the small white butterfly are a common pest in broccoli.


Sa broccoli florets.jpg
Cavolfiore Violetto di Sicilia.jpg
Close-ups of broccoli florets Sicilian purple broccoli A leaf of a broccoli plant
Broccoli bloem.jpg
Fractal Broccoli.jpg
Broccoli flowers 2525385935 e13d4de4c4 b.jpg
Broccoli in a dish 2.jpg
Broccoli flowers Romanesco broccoli (actually a cauliflower
cultivar), showing fractal forms
Broccoli in flower Steamed broccoli

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Buck, P. A (1956). "Origin and taxonomy of broccoli" (PDF). Economic Botany 10 (3): 250–253. doi:10.1007/bf02899000. Retrieved 24 April 2012. 
  2. ^ Stephens, James. "Broccoli—Brassica oleracea L. (Italica group)". University of Florida. p. 1. Retrieved 14 May 2009. 
  3. ^ "broccoli". Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (11th ed.). p. 156. ISBN 978-0-87779-809-5. Retrieved 9 April 2014. 
  4. ^ "Broccoli Leaves Are Edible". Garden Betty. Retrieved 8 May 2013. 
  5. ^ Maggioni, Lorenzo; Bothmer, Roland; Poulsen, Gert; Branca, Ferdinando (2010). "Origin and Domestication of Cole Crops (Brassica oleracea L.): Linguistic and Literary Considerations". Economic Botany 64 (2): 109–123. doi:10.1007/s12231-010-9115-2. 
  6. ^ Nonnecke, Ib (November 1989). Vegetable Production. Springer-Verlag New York, LLC. p. 394. ISBN 978-0-442-26721-6. 
  7. ^ Smith,J.T. Nollekins and His Times, 1829 vol. 2:101: "Scheemakers, on his way to England, visited his birth-place, bringing with him several roots [sic] of brocoli, a dish till then little known in perfection at our tables."
  8. ^ Denker, Joel (2003). The world on a plate. U of Nebraska Press. p. 8. ISBN 978-0-8032-6014-6. Retrieved 24 April 2012. 
  9. ^ "WHFoods: Broccoli". George Mateljan Foundation. Retrieved 11 May 2009. 
  10. ^ Eleanor N. Whitney and Eva M. N. Hamilton. Understanding Nutrition. p. Table H, supplement, page 373 Table 1. ISBN 0-8299-0419-0. 
  11. ^ "Diindolylmethane Information Resource Center at the University of California, Berkeley". Retrieved 10 June 2007. 
  12. ^ "Diindolylmethane Immune Activation Data Center". Retrieved 10 June 2007. 
  13. ^ a b c Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick (15 May 2007). "Research Says Boiling Broccoli Ruins Its Anti Cancer Properties.". 
  14. ^ "Broccoli chemical's cancer check". BBC News. 7 February 2006. Retrieved 5 September 2010. 
  15. ^ "How Dietary Supplement May Block Cancer Cells". Science Daily. 30 June 2010. Retrieved 5 September 2010. 
  16. ^ "Broccoli can reduce premature ageing in kids". The Tribune. 18 December 2014. Retrieved 14 August 2015. 
  17. ^ Gabriel D, Roedl D, Gordon LB and Djabali K (2015). "Sulforaphane enhances progerin clearance in hutchinson-gilford progeria fibroblasts". Aging Cell 14 (1): 78–91. doi:10.1111/acel.12300. PMC 4326906. PMID 25510262. 
  18. ^ a b Bongoni, R; Verkerk, R; Steenbekkers, B; Dekker, M; Stieger, Markus (2014). "Evaluation of Different Cooking Conditions on Broccoli (Brassica oleracea var. italica) to Improve the Nutritional Value and Consumer Acceptance". Plant foods for human nutrition. doi:10.1007/s11130-014-0420-2. 
  19. ^ "Maximizing The Anti-Cancer Power of Broccoli". Science Daily. 5 April 2005. 
  20. ^ a b "Breeding Better Broccoli: Research Points To Pumped Up Lutein Levels In Broccoli". Science Daily. 8 November 2009. Retrieved 5 September 2010. 
  21. ^ Dixon, G.R. (2007). Vegetable brassicas and related crucifers. Wallingford: CABI. ISBN 978-0-85199-395-9. 
  22. ^ "About Beneforte". 
  23. ^ "Major Food And Agricultural Commodities And Producers – Countries By Commodity". Retrieved Feb 3, 2015. 
  24. ^ Smith, Powell (June 1999). "HGIC 1301 Broccoli". Clemson University. Retrieved 25 August 2009. 
  25. ^ Liptay, Albert (1988). Broccoli. World Book, Inc. 
  26. ^ Takeguma, Massahiro (26 May 2013). "Cultivo da Couve Brócolis (Growing Sprouting Broccoli)". 

External links[edit]