phytochemicals Phytochemicals

More plants with phytochemicals



Brassica oleracea

What is broccoli?

Broccoli belongs to the Cruciferae family, together with kale, cauliflower, cabbage, kohlrabi and Brussels sprouts. Broccoli is a strong growing cole crop with large spreading leaves. The edible portion of broccoli are the flower heads. These flower heads are harvested when still green.

Parts used

The flower clusters of the broccoli are eaten as a vegetable before the flower buds open. The peeled broccoli stems can also be used.


These are typical phytochemicals found in broccoli: glucosinolates, dithiolthiones, indoles , glucoraphanin, s-methyl cysteine sulfoxide, isothiocyanates, indole-3-carbinol.

Benefits of broccoli

Broccoli is high in antioxidants, may provide cardiovascular protection and contains many anti-cancer and anti-helicobacter compounds.


The American Cancer Society recommends eating more broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables because they contain anti-cancer phytochemicals. Epidemiological studies suggest that a diet rich in broccoli can reduce the risk of certain types of cancer.Studies have shown that the mortality rates of laboratory animals exposed to radiation could be reduced significantly by feeding of broccoli and cabbage. Several isothiocyanates have been shown to inhibit tumours, induced by chemical carcinogens. Indoles also play a role in cancer prevention. Rats fed with the indole glucobrassicin demonstrated lower incidences of chemically induced tumours. Research has suggested that the compounds in broccoli can protect the eyes against macular degeneration.

Cardiovascular protection

Human studies have not yet heart benefits of broccoli but rodent studies showed some cardiovascular protective activity of broccoli sprouts.


Many studies indicate that sulforaphane may act as an antibiotic against Helicobacter and might be used to eradicate resistant strains of Helicobacter pylori.

Other facts

The word broccoli comes from the Italian word brocco meaning 'branch'. Broccoli contains important phytochemicals but it is also rich in other nutrients, including calcium, fibre and vitamins. Broccoli develops a characteristic pungent, sulphur odours during preparation. These odours are caused by enzymatic and chemical reactions of the sulphur components.

Other names

Italian Broccoli, calabrese, brocks

Research Reviews

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