Nutrition Flower Power: Broccoli Packs a Healthy Punch By UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, July 10, 2014 Mom always said to eat your broccoli, and it turns out she was right! A study at the University of Pittsburgh identified a molecule in the plant that when chewed or crushed helps rid the body of toxins caused by air pollution. The study found that a daily cup of the sprout tea or two small helpings totaling 150 grams of the plant also helps rid toxic pollutants from the body. Part of the cabbage family, the edible part of the plant (including the dark green cluster of florets that resembles a little tree) is actually a flower. A Super Food Often described as a “super food,” broccoli provides fiber, vitamins K and C, and other nutrients, such as the one that eliminates toxins from the body. Cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, contain compounds that have been linked to fighting disease, making them an especially wise choice for a healthy diet. The USDA recommends eating between two and a half and three cups of vegetables daily for adults, depending on age and gender. Preparation Tips Don’t like broccoli? Try serving it a different way! When roasted in the oven with garlic and a bit of heart-healthy olive oil, the florets develop a sweet, nutty flavor. Add a serving to your favorite fruit smoothie, or drink a cup of broccoli sprout tea. You can enjoy it on-the-go with hummus or your favorite low-fat dip. Even broccoli and cheese, the old cafeteria standby, has a place in a healthy diet as long as you enjoy in moderation—and use more broccoli than cheese! Start Growing! For green thumbs who enjoy homegrown vegetables, according to the Farmer’s Almanac, plants can be harvested twice per year, in the spring and fall. They thrive in climates with cool weather, but need at least six hours of sun daily. After harvesting, store broccoli in the refrigerator for up to five days, or blanch and freeze for up to one year. Happy planting!