FOOD & LONGEVITY
Broccoli, from Latin brachium, meaning branch because of its typical aspect of the tree – Brassica oleracea – are vegetables belonging to the family of crucifers. Imported in Italy from Asia Minor already in ancient times, they soon became one of the most cultivated vegetables in Imperial Rome.
100 grams of raw broccoli gives a caloric intake of less than 30 kcal, 5 grams of carbohydrates, and 2.5 of fiber. In every 100 grams, there are about 3 grams of proteins and 0.5 grams of fats.
They contain vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, and vitamin A, as well as potassium, magnesium, phosphor, and iron.
Cooking modifies these values, in particular, prolonged boiling favors the loss of water, vitamins (in particular vitamin C), and minerals.
Broccoli must be rapidly cooked in boiling water, blanched, or steamed. Prolonged cooking is not recommended.
Vitamin K. A portion of 200 gr, contains up to 200 micrograms of vitamin K, which is twice the maximum daily recommended intake of about 105 micrograms.
It is a food that should be consumed with caution for those who are under therapy with anticoagulants, because these drugs may not have the same effect because of the excessive intake of vitamin K due to the consumption of this type of vegetable.
Crucifers, broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, contain substances called glucosinolates, compounds containing sulfur, nitrogen, synthesized from glucose, and some amino acids, which are real defenses against parasites.
Glucosinolates are accumulated within vacuoles and are released when cells are damaged by a parasite attack or by cutting with a knife. With injury also comes the release of myrosinase, which is an enzyme that when it comes into contact with glucosinolates, removes the sugar, and the molecules formed turn into isothiocyanates, thiocyanates, and other compounds with pesticidal effects. These substances are most abundant in the younger parts of the plant.
Among glucosinolates present in broccoli there is glucoraphanin which by the action of myrosinase is transformed into sulforaphane and glucobrassicin from which is derived indole -3 – carbinol.
They are all substances capable of inhibiting the genesis and growth of tumor cells and stimulate some genes that prevent the formation of tumors.
The substances contained in broccoli, wich is in all cruciferous vegetables, stimulate the production of hepatic enzymes which contribute to the elimination of toxic and carcinogenic substances.
Scientific studies have shown the protective effect against tumors of the stomach, rectum, and hormonal breast cancers.
Sulforaphane protects the walls of the vessels from damage caused by diabetes and inhibits the formation of AGEs, which are advanced glycation products that accumulate in cells and tissues and contribute to the development of many age-related diseases.
Sulforaphane has anti-tumor activity and can selectively inhibit the activity of telomerase in cancer cells and promotes apoptosis and autophagy in neurons, a process that allows to the elimination of abnormal protein aggregates that can contribute to the development of neurodegenerative diseases. ( Van Poppel G et al “Brassica Vegetables and Cancer Prevention. Epidemiology and Mechanisms,” Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology 1999, 472, pp 159 – 168. The Foods of Longevity M Tommasini Sperling and Kupfler 2020).