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The Healing Qualities of Whole Foods: Broccoli

by Suzann Pileggi Pawelski

Derived from the Latin word "brachium", which means branch or arm, broccoli’s name is a reflection of its tree-like shape that features a compact head of florets attached by small stems to a larger stalk. Broccoli was originally cultivated in Italy and referred to as "broccolo" which means "cabbage sprout." In ancient Roman times, it was developed from wild cabbage, a plant that more resembles collards than broccoli. Broccoli was introduced to the United States in colonial times, popularized by Italian immigrants who brought this prized vegetable with them to the New World. One of the most popular types of broccoli sold in North America is known as Italian green, or Calabrese, named after the Italian province of Calabria where it first grew.

Broccoli is an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and K, folate, and dietary fiber. A member of the Brassica family, broccoli and its cruciferous cousins – like cabbage, cauliflower, kale and Brussel sprouts – all contain the cancer-fighting phytonutrients sulforaphane and the indoles. Studies show that diets high in cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, may help slow down tumor growth, decrease the size of tumors, and lower the risk of certain cancers, including lung, colon, breast, bladder, prostate, and ovarian cancer. A broccoli-rich diet also helps prevent heart disease, cataracts, and birth defects, and promotes strong bones and a healthy immune system. And, all it takes is just one serving a day to reap these health benefits.

When purchasing broccoli look for compact and unbruised floret clusters with a dark green, sage or purple-green color. The stalk and stems should be firm, and any leaves should be vibrant and unwilted. Broccoli will keep for a week if stored unwashed in an open plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper. Steam or quickly sauté broccoli in extra virgin olive oil to best retain its health promoting benefits. Since the fibrous stems take longer to cook, prepare them a few minutes before adding the florets. Broccoli is delicious raw chopped into salads, steamed, or cooked with onions, garlic, and mushrooms – or any of your favorite veggies. Perfect as a side dish, broccoli is also excellent as a main meal tossed with whole grain pasta or brown rice, and topped with sesame seeds. Try adding sautéed broccoli, along with grilled tomatoes, to your favorite breakfast omelet or topping them on your lunchtime whole grain pizza. The tomato-broccoli combination has an additive cancer-fighting effect so enjoy these beneficial veggies together to further boost your health!

Broccoli-Nut Medley

1 lb organic broccoli

olive oil, extra virgin

3 cloves garlic, chopped

¼ cup pine nuts or sliced almonds

sea salt

Steam broccoli until it turns a bright green. Remove from heat. Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a skillet on medium temperature. Add chopped garlic and sauté for about a minute. Pour garlic-oil over broccoli. Toss in pine nuts or sliced almonds. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Enjoy alone or topped over your favorite whole grain pasta or brown rice.

Suzann Pileggi is a certified holistic health counselor. She works with clients on nourishing their body and soul by helping them make better food and lifestyle choices. She uses food to naturally increase energy, control cravings and create a balanced lifestyle. She conducts special sugar seminars at Radu’s Physical Culture gym in NYC. Visit her website at www.suzannpileggi.com   , email her at suzannpileggi@aol.com,  or call her at (212) 799-4169 for a FREE initial holistic health consultation. Phone consultations and group seminars available.

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