Health experts have been promoting broccoli as a superfood citing several benefits, ranging from protecting the heart to reducing cancer risks.

Known to be a powerhouse of antioxidants and a rich source of vitamins and minerals, here are some health benefits of broccoli:

  • Reduces inflammation
  • May reduce cancer risks
  • May help in regulating blood sugar level
  • Good for eye health
  • Supports hormonal balance
  • Reduces risk of cardiovascular diseases
  • Supports immune system
  • May help in weight loss

A new study conducted by Penn State University gives you more reasons to include this nutrient-packed vegetable in your diet. Eating broccoli may help promote gut health and reduce diseases, the study published in the journal Laboratory Investigation reveals.

Researchers tried to understand the mechanism that happens inside the small intestine of mice when the vegetable is consumed. Researchers found that certain molecules in broccoli, called aryl hydrocarbon receptor ligands, that bind to a receptor within mice's small intestine help to protect the lining and prevent the development of disease.

The scientists analyzed the gut health of mice that were fed a diet containing 15% broccoli, which would be equivalent to about 3.5 cups per day for humans. They then compared it to the control group that was given a typical lab diet that did not have broccoli.

"The gut health of the mice that were not fed broccoli was compromised in a variety of ways that are known to be associated with disease," Gary Perdew, a lead researcher of the study, said. "Our research suggests that broccoli and likely other foods can be used as natural sources of AHR ligands and that diets rich in these ligands contribute to the resilience of the small intestine."

"Our research is helping to uncover the mechanisms for how broccoli and other foods benefit health in mice and likely humans, as well. It provides strong evidence that cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts should be part of a normal healthy diet," the researchers said.

The researchers evaluated the benefits of broccoli in mice by understanding the mechanism that happens inside the small intestine when the vegetable is consumed. pixabay

Here are some facts to keep in mind when you eat broccoli:

  • How much broccoli is too much to eat? Like most vegetables, broccoli is high in water and low in calories, which helps you to eat them without worrying about the calorie count. However, the maximum recommended level is two to three cups of broccoli per day and if you have a history of kidney stones or increased risk, the recommended limit is one to two cups per day.
  • What happens when you eat broccoli at night? Although eating broccoli is beneficial, it is not recommended to be taken at night due to its high fiber content that can cause acidity and disrupt sleep.
  • People with goiter and hypothyroidism should limit their intake of broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables.
  • Cooked broccoli contains more antioxidants than raw broccoli. However, raw broccoli contains more fiber and vitamins such as vitamin C and vitamin A than the cooked version.