Winter tends to weigh us down. We want to move as slow as a sloth, but work and family pressures don’t allow us to slow the pace. How can we combat the dreaded doldrums? Everything we need to lighten up is found in the produce aisle.
Broccoli has a strong, positive impact on our body’s detoxification system. The dynamic trio of nutrients glucoraphanin, gluconasturtiin and glucobrassicin neutralize and eliminate unwanted contaminants, leaving us feeling lighter and more able to cope. Most toxins that pose a risk to our cells are detoxified in our body through a two-step process. What’s remarkable about broccoli is its ability to alter activity in both steps: The glucosinolates in broccoli assist the first step in detoxification (called Phase I) and its sulforaphane content supports the second step (called Phase II).
Broccoli consumption has increased more than 940 percent over the last 25 years. It could be because broccoli contains a ample amounts of protein and is one of the richest vegetable sources of calcium, iron and magnesium. Moreover, broccoli boasts substantial amounts of vitamin A and contains more vitamin C than an orange!
Need more reasons to to serve these mini trees at dinner this week? Look at these five amazing facts on the cleansing cruciferous:
1. Broccoli may relieve asthma symptoms. Sulforaphane is a naturally occurring chemical found in broccoli. This interesting molecule increases the amount of active Phase II enzymes of the upper respiratory tract, helping with symptoms of asthma. These enzymes are responsible for neutralizing the harmful toxins we breathe every day that can cause respiratory distress in sensitive people, especially those with respiratory conditions.
2. Broccoli is loaded with fibre. Foods high in fibre and nutrients can help weight-loss efforts by increasing the feeling of being full, thereby helping us eating less. Fibre is also necessary to “soak-up” the toxins dumped into the intestines by the liver. Without fibre, the toxins are reabsorbed into our bodies, wreaking havoc on our systems.
3. Broccoli may protect against tissue damage in diabetes. Diabetes-type tissue damage is caused by sharp glucose crystals circulating in the bloodstream. The naturally occurring chemicals in broccoli, flavonol glycosides and hydroxycinnamic acid, are responsible for antioxidant protection that helps combat free radical tissue damage.
4. Broccoli is a good source of many of the B vitamins. Broccoli is excellent for women who are currently on or have previously used oral contraceptives. Oral contraceptives are proven to dramatically reduce levels of circulating B vitamins in the body. The B complex vitamins are required for a number of metabolic reactions in the body including fat and carbohydrate metabolism for proper energy production.
5. Broccoli may stop replication of colon-cancer cells. The beautiful green colour of broccoli can be attributed to its high chlorophyll content. Chlorophyll helps to alkalize the body and may stop the replication of colon-cancer cells by arresting the cells’ abnormal cycle.
Creamy broccoli lentil soup
An important part of cleansing the body is to take a break from heavy fats. Creamy soups do not need to be high in fat. You can create a creamy effect from blending your soups on high with a wand blender. By immersing the wand into the soup, you create smooth low-fat soups without the hassle of transferring your soup to a blender, and it is much faster to clean. Broccoli is one of the highest-protein veggies, and lentils are second only to soybeans for maximum protein power. Protein helps to balance your blood sugar, which is the most important thing you can do to achieve personal weight balance.
1 ½ tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp crushed garlic
¾ cup chopped onion
1 large carrot, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 tbsp dried basil
3 cups chopped broccoli (1 large head)
¾ cup dried green lentils
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 tbsp grated parmesan
2 green onions, chopped for garnish (optional)
1. Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat.
2. Add onions and garlic and sauté for 3 minutes.
3. Add the carrots, celery and basil and cook for a few more minutes until the spices coat them nicely.
4. Add the rest of the ingredients (except the broccoli) and bring to a boil.
5. Reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes hour covered.
6. Cut broccoli into small florets. Add to the pot and cook for 10 more minutes.
7. Using a wand blender, puree till smooth. Garnish with green onions if desired.
Makes three 2 cup servings. Freeze some portions for workdays on the run.
For more see our 30 Days of Detox hub.
Nutritionist Julie Daniluk hosts Healthy Gourmet, a reality cooking show that looks at the ongoing battle between taste and nutrition. Her book Meals That Heal Inflammation advises on allergy-free foods that both taste great and assist the body in the healing process.