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Broccoli has been around for more than 2000 years, The name "broccoli" comes for the Latin word brachium, which means "branch," or "arm." Americans have grown it in their gardens for only about 200 years! The first commercially grown broccoli was grown and harvested in New York, then planted in the 1920 s in California. A few crates were sent back East and by 1925 the broccoli market was off the ground.

Varieties

Broccoli was first grown in the Italian province of Calabria and was given the name Calabrese. Today there are many varieties. In the United States, the most common type of broccoli is the Italian green or sprouting variety. Its green stalks are topped with umbrella-shaped clusters of purplish green florets.

Selection

Choose bunches that are dark green. Good color indicates high nutrient value. Florets that are dark green, purplish, or bluish green contain more beta-carotene and vitamin C than paler or yellowing ones. Choose bunches with stalks that are very firm. Stalks that bend or seem rubbery are of poor quality. Avoid broccoli with open, flowering, discolored, or water-soaked bud clusters and tough, woody stems.

Storage

Store broccoli unwashed, in an open plastic bag and place in the crisper drawer of refrigerator. It is best if used within a day or two after purchasing.

Fresh vs. Frozen

Packaged frozen broccoli differs from fresh in its nutrient content. The flower buds or florets are richer in beta-carotene than the stalks. Manufactures typically cut off most of the stalk before packaging it, so frozen broccoli may contain 35% more beta-carotene by weight than fresh broccoli. The downside is that frozen broccoli has twice as much sodium as fresh (up to 68 mg per 10 oz. package), about half the calcium, and smaller amounts of iron, thiamin, riboflavin, and vitamin C.

Preparation and Cooking

The best way to cook broccoli is to steam, cook in the microwave or stir-fry with a little broth or water. These methods are better than boiling. Some of the vitamin and mineral content are lost from the vegetable and end up in the cooking water when they are boiled. Cooked broccoli should be tender enough so that it can be pierced with a sharp knife, and still remain crisp and bright green in color.
Recipes

Broccoli Soup

Makes 4 servings. (1 cup each)

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups chopped broccoli (or 10-ounce pkg. frozen broccoli)
1/4 cup diced celery
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
2 cups nonfat milk
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. salt
Dash pepper
Dash ground thyme
1/4 cup grated Swiss cheese

Place vegetables and broth in saucepan. Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover, and cook until vegetables are tender (about 8 minutes). Mix milk, cornstarch, salt, pepper, and thyme; add to cooked vegetables. Cook, stirring constantly, until soup is lightly thickened and mixture just begins to boil. Remove from heat. Add cheese and stir until melted. This is an official Fruits & Veggies—More Matters recipe.

Nutritional Analysis Per Serving: calories 115, cholesterol 10mg, sodium 255mg, fat 3g, calories from fat 24%.

Cooked Broccoli

Raw Spinach
Serving size 1/2 cup cooked (78g)
Amounts Per Serving % Daily Value
Calories 25  
Calories from Fat 5  
Total Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 30mg 1%
Total Carbohydrate 6g 2%
Dietary Fiber 3g 11%
Sugars 1g 
Protein 2g 
Vitamin A 30%
Vitamin C 80%
Calcium 4%
Iron 2%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

Serving size 1/2 cup raw (36g)
Amounts Per Serving % Daily Value
Calories 10  
Calories from Fat 0  
Total Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 10mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 2g 1%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Sugars 1g 
Protein 1g 
Vitamin A 20%
Vitamin C 60%
Calcium 2%
Iron 2%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

Benefits

As broccoli helps you lose weight, it also provides health benefits such as lowering cholesterol, boosting your heart health and lowering your risk of cancer. A study by the University of Connecticut School of Medicine indicated that eating broccoli provides you with antioxidants, which help lower your risk of chronic inflammation and cancer. The fiber helps your body excrete bile acids, which helps lower your cholesterol, according to the World's Healthiest. This, along with the omega-3 fatty acids in broccoli, also lowers your risk of heart disease.

A 25-calorie piece of broccoli requires 80 calories to digest. That's 55 calories burned just by eating one piece of broccoli!

Broccoli