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Title: Broccoli  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Cabbage, Kohlrabi, List of Dreamcast games, Broccoli sprouts, Brassica oleracea
Collection: Brassica Oleracea, Cultivars, Edible Plants, Inflorescence Vegetables
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Species Brassica oleracea
Cultivar group Italica Group
Origin From Italy (2,000 years ago)[1][2]

Broccoli is an edible green plant in the cabbage family, whose large flowering head is used as a vegetable. The word broccoli comes from the Italian plural of broccolo, which means "the flowering crest of a cabbage", and is the diminutive form of brocco, meaning "small nail" or "sprout".[3] Broccoli is often boiled or steamed but may be eaten raw.[4]

Broccoli is classified in the Italica cultivar group of the species Brassica oleracea. Broccoli has large flower heads, usually green in color, arranged in a tree-like structure on branches sprouting from a thick, edible stalk. The mass of flower heads is surrounded by leaves. Broccoli resembles cauliflower, which is a different cultivar group of the same species.

Broccoli is a result of careful breeding of cultivated leafy cole crops in the Northern Mediterranean in about the 6th century BC.[5] Since the Roman Empire, broccoli has been considered a uniquely valuable food among Italians.[6] Broccoli was brought to England from Antwerp in the mid-18th century by Peter Scheemakers.[7] Broccoli was first introduced to the United States by Italian immigrants but did not become widely known there until the 1920s.[8]


  • Nutrition 1
  • Varieties 2
  • Production 3
    • Cultivation 3.1
    • Pests 3.2
  • Gallery 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Broccoli, raw (edible parts)
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 141 kJ (34 kcal)
6.64 g
Sugars 1.7 g
Dietary fiber 2.6 g
0.37 g
2.82 g
Vitamin A equiv.
31 μg
361 μg
1403 μg
Thiamine (B1)
0.071 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
0.117 mg
Niacin (B3)
0.639 mg
0.573 mg
Vitamin B6
0.175 mg
Folate (B9)
63 μg
Vitamin C
89.2 mg
Vitamin E
0.78 mg
Vitamin K
101.6 μg
Trace metals
47 mg
0.73 mg
21 mg
0.21 mg
66 mg
316 mg
0.41 mg
Other constituents
Water 89.3 g

Link to USDA Database entry
Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

Broccoli is high in vitamin C and dietary fiber. It also contains multiple nutrients with potent anti-cancer properties, such as diindolylmethane and small amounts of selenium.[9] A single serving provides more than 30 mg of vitamin C and a half-cup provides 52 mg of vitamin C.[10] The 3,3'-Diindolylmethane found in broccoli is a potent modulator of the innate immune response system with anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-cancer activity.[11][12] Broccoli also contains the compound glucoraphanin, which can be processed into an anti-cancer compound sulforaphane, though the anti-cancer benefits of broccoli are greatly reduced if the vegetable is boiled.[13] Broccoli is also an excellent source of indole-3-carbinol, a chemical which boosts DNA repair in cells and appears to block the growth of cancer cells.[14][15]

Boiling broccoli reduces the levels of suspected anti-carcinogenic compounds, such as sulforaphane, with losses of 20–30% after five minutes, 40–50% after ten minutes, and 77% after thirty minutes.,[13][16] However, other preparation methods such as steaming,[16][17] microwaving, and stir frying had no significant effect on the compounds.[13]

Broccoli has the highest levels of carotenoids in the brassica family.[18] It is particularly rich in lutein and also provides a modest amount of beta-carotene.[18]


Broccoli plants in a nursery

There are three commonly grown types of broccoli. The most familiar is Calabrese broccoli, often referred to simply as "broccoli", named after Calabria in Italy. It has large (10 to 20 cm) green heads and thick stalks. It is a cool season annual crop. Sprouting broccoli has a larger number of heads with many thin stalks. Purple cauliflower is a type of broccoli sold in southern Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom. It has a head shaped like cauliflower, but consisting of tiny flower buds. It sometimes, but not always, has a purple cast to the tips of the flower buds.

Other cultivar groups of Brassica oleracea include cabbage (Capitata Group), cauliflower and Romanesco broccoli (Botrytis Group), kale and collard greens (Acephala Group), kohlrabi (Gongylodes Group), Brussels sprouts (Gemmifera Group),and Chinese broccoli (Alboglabra Group).[19] Rapini, sometimes called "broccoli raab" among other names, forms similar but smaller heads, and is actually a type of turnip (Brassica rapa). Broccolini or "Tenderstem broccoli" is a cross between broccoli and Chinese broccoli. Beneforté is a variety of broccoli containing 2-3 times more glucoraphanin that was produced by crossing broccoli with a wild Brassica variety, Brassica oleracea var villosa.[20]


Cauliflower and broccoli output in 2005
Top ten cauliflowers and broccoli producers—2011
Country Production (tonnes) Share (%)
 People's Republic of China 9,030,990 43.26
 India 6,745,000 32.31
 Spain 527,500 2.53
 Mexico 427,884 2.05
 Italy 420,989 2.02
 France 334,170 1.62
 United States 325,180 1.56
 Poland 297,649 1.43
 Pakistan 227,591 1.09
 Egypt 201,201 0.96
World 20,842,200

Source: International Production of Cauliflowers And Broccoli, Source: Food & Agricultural Organisation (FAO)


Broccoli is a cool-weather crop that does poorly in hot summer weather. Broccoli grows best when exposed to an average daily temperature between 18 and 23 °C (64 and 73 °F).[21] When the cluster of flowers, also referred to as a "head" of broccoli, appear in the center of the plant, the cluster is green. Garden pruners or shears are used to cut the head about an inch from the tip. Broccoli should be harvested before the flowers on the head bloom bright yellow.[22]

While the heading broccoli variety performs poorly in hot weather, mainly due to insect infestation, the sprouting variety is more resistant, though attention must be paid to sucking insects (such as aphids), caterpillars and whiteflies. Spraying of bacillus thuringiensis can control caterpillar attacks, while a citronella vase may ward off whiteflies.[23]


Mostly introduced by accident, "cabbage worms", the larvae of Pieris rapae, the small white butterfly are a common pest in broccoli.


Close-ups of broccoli florets Sicilian purple broccoli A leaf of a broccoli plant
Broccoli flowers Romanesco broccoli (actually a cauliflower
cultivar), showing fractal forms
Broccoli in flower Steamed broccoli


  1. ^ Buck, P. A (1956). "Origin and taxonomy of broccoli". Economic Botany 10 (3): 250–253.  
  2. ^ Stephens, James. "Broccoli—Brassica oleracea L. (Italica group)". University of Florida. p. 1. Retrieved 14 May 2009. 
  3. ^ "broccoli". Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (11th ed.). p. 156.  
  4. ^ "Broccoli Leaves Are Edible". Garden Betty. Retrieved 8 May 2013. 
  5. ^ Maggioni, Lorenzo; Bothmer, Roland; Poulsen, Gert; Branca, Ferdinando (2010). "Origin and Domestication of Cole Crops (Brassica oleracea L.): Linguistic and Literary Considerations". Economic Botany 64 (2): 109–123.  
  6. ^ Nonnecke, Ib (November 1989). Vegetable Production. Springer-Verlag New York, LLC. p. 394.  
  7. ^ Smith,J.T. Nollekins and His Times, 1829 vol. 2:101: "Scheemakers, on his way to England, visited his birth-place, bringing with him several roots [sic] of brocoli, a dish till then little known in perfection at our tables."
  8. ^ Denker, Joel (2003). The world on a plate. U of Nebraska Press. p. 8.  
  9. ^ "WHFoods: Broccoli". George Mateljan Foundation. Retrieved 11 May 2009. 
  10. ^ Understanding Nutrition, Eleanor N. Whitney and Eva M. N. Hamilton, Table H, supplement, page 373 Table 1, ISBN 0-8299-0419-0
  11. ^ "Diindolylmethane Information Resource Center at the University of California, Berkeley". Retrieved 10 June 2007. 
  12. ^ "Diindolylmethane Immune Activation Data Center". Retrieved 10 June 2007. 
  13. ^ a b c Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick (15 May 2007). "Research Says Boiling Broccoli Ruins Its Anti Cancer Properties.". 
  14. ^ "Broccoli chemical's cancer check". BBC News. 7 February 2006. Retrieved 5 September 2010. 
  15. ^ "How Dietary Supplement May Block Cancer Cells". Science Daily. 30 June 2010. Retrieved 5 September 2010. 
  16. ^ a b Bongoni, R; Verkerk, R; Steenbekkers, B; Dekker, M; Stieger, Markus (2014). "Evaluation of Different Cooking Conditions on Broccoli (Brassica oleracea var. italica) to Improve the Nutritional Value and Consumer Acceptance". Plant foods for human nutrition.  
  17. ^ "Maximizing The Anti-Cancer Power of Broccoli". Science Daily. 5 April 2005. 
  18. ^ a b "Breeding Better Broccoli: Research Points To Pumped Up Lutein Levels In Broccoli". Science Daily. 8 November 2009. Retrieved 5 September 2010. 
  19. ^ Dixon, G.R. (2007). Vegetable brassicas and related crucifers. Wallingford: CABI.  
  20. ^
  21. ^ Smith, Powell (June 1999). "HGIC 1301 Broccoli".  
  22. ^ Liptay, Albert (1988). Broccoli.  
  23. ^ Takeguma, Massahiro (26 May 2013). "Cultivo da Couve Brócolis (Growing Sprouting Broccoli)". 

External links

  • Brassica oleracea (cauliflower and broccoli)PROTAbase on
  • List of North American broccoli cultivars, USDA/ARS Vegetable Laboratory
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