It’s not classed as a super food. It’s not packaged up fancily and sold for 20x its value in organic health food shops. It’s not trending on Instagram, or being used in face creams, or as a gin flavour (thank goodness). It’s just plain, unglamorous, cheap and cheerful broccoli.
But, according to one TV doctor, it’s the only vegetable you need to be eating.
Just now, browsing the news in bed on a grey and rainy July(?!!) morning, I came across a tabloid article about overactive thyroids. I don’t have an overactive thyroid or a particular interest in them. I don’t know why I opened the article (apart from that the main thing on my agenda today is a deep clean of my entire flat, so I’m probably procrastinating).
The article features the following chart about vitamins, what they do and which foods you can find them in. Scanning through it in a bid to put off scrubbing my bathroom, I noticed that broccoli featured as a food example on nearly every vitamin.
I eat broccoli every day as part of my dinner for the simple fact that it’s a cheap and tasty vegetable I can buy frozen and chuck in any dish I’m cooking. It’s extra satisfying to think that I’m doing my body a lot of good by eating it.
But back to the doctor who claims broccoli is the only vegetable we need to eat.
His name is Dr Rangan Chatterjee, the author of a healthy eating book called ‘The Four Pillar Plan’, and a correspondent on the BBC programme ‘Doctor in the House’.
He says that as well as being packed with all the key vitamins, broccoli is great for gut health. For the little critters living inside our colons, a broccoli is a veritable take-away pizza. They love the stuff.
“As it goes through the small intestine it helps to balance your immune system,” says Dr Chatterjee. “And then the fibre from the broccoli that can’t be digested goes along to the colon, which is the last part of the bowel, where most of the gut bugs reside and they start feasting on the fibre and making short chain fatty acids.”
An exciting area of science right now is the link between our guts and our brains. It’s thought that gut health can profoundly impact our mood! Broccoli might not be the first thing you reach for when you’re feeling a bit crabby. No-one’s sitting on the sofa after a long stressful week at work spooning broccoli florets into their mouths. But in the long-term, adding it to your diet might just help you feel better.
Past research shows a link between eating broccoli and reducing your risk of certain cancers. Particularly colon and lung cancer. The lung cancer link is interesting to me because – doesn’t a broccoli remind you of the little branches of alveoli in our lungs?
In ancient herbalist philosophy, plants and vegetables resemble the human body part they’re supposed to treat and, fascinatingly, in many cases it appears to be true. For instance: ginger, which is used to sooth nausea and happens to look like a stomach, and walnuts, which look like little brains and happen to contain lots of brain-friendly fats.
I love noticing these synchronisities in nature.
So in summary: eat lots of broccoli! Now I guess I should get up and clean.