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The Instacart guide to broccoli products

About broccoli

Native to the Mediterranean, broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable in the same family as cabbage, cauliflower, kale, and Brussels sprouts. It originated in Italy in the sixth century, where it was developed from wild cabbage. The name broccoli is derived from the Italian word "broccolo," which means "the flowering crest of a cabbage," and the Latin "brachium," which means arm, shoot, or branch.

Broccoli didn't make its way to England until the 1700s and wasn't widely popular in the United States until the 1920s. Today, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average American eats 4 pounds of broccoli each year. Similar to other vegetables, broccoli is high in water and low in calories. It's also high in various nutrients, some of which include vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, fiber, and potassium. It also boasts more protein compared to many other vegetables. 

You can enjoy broccoli raw or cooked, but the way you prepare it can affect the number of nutrients you get and which ones. The following are the nutrition facts for 1 cup (91 grams) of raw broccoli:
  • Carbs: 6g
  • Calories: 31
  • Fat: 0.4g
  • Fiber: 2.4g
  • Protein: 2.5g
  • Sugar: 1.5g
Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, have sulfur-containing compounds that have numerous health benefits. Some of these benefits include the following:
  • Cancer prevention: Studies suggest that consuming cruciferous vegetables is linked to a reduced risk of many cancers, including breast, lung, prostate, pancreatic, and colorectal.
  • Lower cholesterol levels: Broccoli can reduce cholesterol levels because its soluble fiber binds with the cholesterol in the blood, making the cholesterol easier to excrete and lowering the body's levels.
  • Improves heart health: Broccoli can keep the heart healthy by keeping the blood vessels strong. Its sulforaphane is also anti-inflammatory and can prevent or reverse the damage done to blood vessel linings caused by blood sugar problems.
  • Digestion: Thanks to its high fiber content, broccoli can keep you regular and maintain healthy bacteria levels in your intestines.

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FAQs About Broccoli

Store unwashed broccoli in an open plastic bag in the coldest part of your refrigerator. However, it's better to wrap the broccoli in a damp paper towel and place it on a shelf or in a drawer in the refrigerator. You only want to wash the heads right before you plan to use them. Use the broccoli within 10-14 days.

Yes, you can freeze broccoli for up to a year. Although you can just toss the washed vegetable into a freezer bag, blanching it results in better-looking, fresher-tasting, and more nutritious broccoli.

Wash and cut the head into florets and the stem into pieces. Place the pieces in a pot of boiling water for 5 minutes to blanch them. Remove the broccoli from the boiling water immediately, and cool it by submerging it in ice water for 5 minutes. Drain and dry completely, then place the broccoli in freezer bags to store in the freezer. Once you're ready to use your frozen broccoli, either transfer the bag into the refrigerator and let it thaw overnight, or use it directly in your dish while cooking. 

Some studies show that cooking vegetables can break down tough outer layers and cellular structures, allowing your body to absorb nutrients more easily.  Out of the five most popular ways of preparing it -- boiling, microwaving, stir-frying, steaming, or frying -- the best way to prepare broccoli is to steam it as it retains the highest level of nutrients.
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