Broccoli is a member of the cruciferous vegetable family that also includes cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. These vegetables, according to the American Cancer Society, are associated with a decreased risk of some types of cancer, due to the presence of a substance called lutein. Broccoli is also high in dietary fiber, which can decrease your risk of diseases such as colon cancer. This versatile vegetable can be boiled, steamed, stir-fried or blanched. Raw broccoli contains the same nutritional resources as its cooked counterpart, but it can cause problems for some people.
Suppression of Thyroid Function
While broccoli is a healthy food rich in phytonutrients and fiber, for individuals with thyroid disease, it can cause problems. According to Natural Life Chiropractic, cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli are also known as goitrogenic foods. This term refers to the thyroid-suppressing effect of broccoli when eaten raw. Cooking helps to neutralize this effect, but if you are taking medication for any thyroid condition, eat broccoli either two hours before or two hours after the medication.
Irritation of the Bowel
Because broccoli is high in dietary fiber, it helps to keep your lower digestive tract healthy. If you have a pre-existing bowel condition, though, broccoli can cause discomfort. According to the American Cancer Society, broccoli can cause painful gas, bloating and diarrhea. Additionally, raw broccoli may increase the irritation because the fiber hasn't been tempered by cooking. Check with your doctor if you have problems with your digestive tract before eating raw broccoli.
Raw broccoli may be delicious, but you may not be getting the full nutritional value of this vegetable. According to "Scientific American," cooking is necessary for some foods in order to release a pigment known as lycopene. Lycopene has been associated with decreased risks of cancer and heart attack in research studies. The way broccoli is cooked matters, too. For maximum available lycopene as well as other nutrients like carotenoids, boil or steam broccoli rather than frying it in oil or butter.
Avoid Food Poisoning When Traveling
Raw broccoli sold in some countries or at roadside stands can carry bacteria or viruses that attach to the vegetable during handling, shipping or distribution. The University of Maryland Medical Center explains that food poisoning is a threat in countries that don't have good food sanitation standards. Produce at roadside stands may also have been handled without proper sanitary technique. If you're in another country, it's best to avoid raw vegetables and choose the cooked version that has been heated enough to kill any harmful pathogens.
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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.