Updated: Mar 11
Why is broccoli an essential vegetable for healthy and young-looking skin?
Broccoli has a reputation as a superfood, and for a good reason.
Broccoli is a nutritional powerhouse packed full of vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants. It contains iron, potassium, calcium, selenium and magnesium, and the vitamins A, C, E, K, and a good array of B vitamins, including folic acid.
This article will look at broccoli’s nutritional content and what makes it an essential vegetable to include in the diet for healthy and young-looking skin.
Broccoli and its skin health benefits
Broccoli gets its name from the Italian word “broccalo”, which means “cabbage sprout”.
Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable in the same family as kale, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, cabbage and collard greens. It is a firm favourite amongst nutritionists as part of a diet for skin health and healthy skin ageing and conditions such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis.
The antioxidant content of broccoli may be one of its main benefits for a skin-friendly diet.
Antioxidants are molecules that inhibit or neutralise cell damage caused by free radicals. Antioxidants can help reduce inflammation and have an overall health-protective effect.
Broccoli has high levels of glucoraphanin. During digestion, glucoraphanin is converted into a potent antioxidant called sulforaphane. Sulforaphane helps protect the skin from free radical damage and has potent anti-ageing effects.
Broccoli also contains measurable amounts of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which may prevent oxidative stress and cellular damage to the skin. They can also protect the skin from sun damage and may help improve skin tone and slow the ageing process.
Approximately 1/2 cup of cooked broccoli has about 50 milligrams of vitamin C. As well as its antioxidant benefits, vitamin C helps produce collagen in the body. Collagen is essential for skin elasticity and helps to smooth the skin and reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
Another compound in broccoli, called nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN), also offers anti-ageing benefits. NMN produces Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+), a compound essential for mitochondrial function and energy metabolism. NAD+ fuels energy in our bodies, potentially eliminating some of the signs associated with ageing.
Is broccoli best eaten raw or cooked?
You can prepare broccoli in several ways, as it is such a versatile vegetable. Steaming helps to retain a lot of its nutritional content, but boiling and roasting are other options. It makes a delicious addition to salads when eaten raw and can be added to smoothies to pack in the goodness.
A 2008 report by the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry(1) found that boiling and steaming were best for preserving broccoli’s antioxidant status, but cooking can destroy vitamin C. Another piece of research, however, found that raw broccoli was best when it comes to preserving the levels of sulforaphane(2).
While I love fresh broccoli, frozen florets make a budget-friendly store cupboard standby, which is excellent for adding to soups and stews.
Overall, whether you eat broccoli raw or cooked, it is valuable to a balanced diet for healthy and young-looking skin.
If you want to read more on my top foods for skin health, see my article Acne-Prone Skin - 10 Foods to Include in Your Diet To Reduce Breakouts.