Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable rich in antioxidants and other beneficial plant compounds. It may also offer several benefits, especially for eye health, heart health, and disease prevention.

Broccoli (Brassica oleracea) is a cruciferous vegetable related to cabbage, kale, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts (1).

These vegetables are known for their beneficial health effects.

Broccoli is high in many nutrients, including fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, and potassium.

This green veggie can be enjoyed both raw and cooked, but recent research shows that gentle steaming provides the most health benefits (2, 3).

This article tells you everything you need to know about broccoli.

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Raw broccoli contains almost 90% water, 7% carbs, 3% protein, and almost no fat.

Broccoli is very low in calories, providing only 35 calories per cup, or 90 grams (g).

The nutrition facts for 1 cup (90 g) of raw broccoli are (4):

  • Calories: 35
  • Protein: 2.3 g
  • Carbs: 5.6 g
  • Fiber: 2.2 g
  • Fat: 0.3 g
  • Vitamin C: 91% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Vitamin K: 77% of the DV
  • Folate: 15% of the DV

Each serving also contains a small amount of potassium, magnesium, iron, and calcium.


Broccoli’s carbs mainly consist of fiber and sugars.

The sugars are fructose, glucose, and sucrose, with small amounts of lactose and maltose (4).

However, the total carb content is very low, with only 3.4 grams of digestible carbs — or total carbs minus fiber — per cup (90 g) (4).


Fiber is an important part of a healthy diet.

It can promote gut health, help reduce the risk of various diseases, and aid weight loss (5).

Each cup (90 g) of raw broccoli provides 2.2 g of fiber, which is about 8% of the DV (4, 6).


Broccoli is low in digestible carbs but provides a decent amount of fiber, which promotes gut health and may reduce your risk of various diseases.

Broccoli contains a variety of vitamins and minerals, including (4, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12):

  • Vitamin C: This micronutrient doubles as an antioxidant and is important for immune function and skin health.
  • Vitamin K1: Broccoli contains high amounts of vitamin K1, which is important for blood clotting and may promote bone health.
  • Folate (vitamin B9): Particularly important for pregnant people, folate is needed for normal tissue growth and cell function.
  • Potassium: In addition to being an essential mineral, potassium is beneficial for blood pressure control and heart disease prevention.
  • Manganese: This trace element is found in high amounts in whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables.
  • Iron: This mineral has many important functions in your body, such as the transport of oxygen in red blood cells.

Broccoli also contains numerous other vitamins and minerals in smaller amounts.


Broccoli is high in many vitamins and minerals, including folate, potassium, manganese, and vitamins C and K1.

Broccoli is rich in various antioxidants and plant compounds, which contribute to its health benefits. These include (13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19):

  • Sulforaphane: One of the most abundant and extensively studied plant compounds in broccoli, sulforaphane may protect against various types of cancer.
  • Indole-3-carbinol: A unique nutrient found in cruciferous vegetables, this compound may be beneficial against cancer.
  • Carotenoids: Broccoli contains lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta carotene, which may all contribute to better eye health.
  • Kaempferol: An antioxidant with many benefits for health, this compound may protect against heart disease, cancer, inflammation, and allergies.
  • Quercetin: This antioxidant has numerous benefits, including lowering blood pressure in people with high levels.

Broccoli is high in many plant compounds that have been associated with health benefits. The most abundant one is sulforaphane.

Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli provide sulfur-containing compounds that are responsible for their often pungent taste (20).

These bioactive compounds may have numerous health benefits.

Cancer prevention

Cancer is characterized by the rapid growth of abnormal cells and is often linked to oxidative stress (21).

Broccoli is loaded with compounds that are believed to protect against cancer.

Observational studies suggest that the consumption of cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, is linked to a reduced risk of many cancers, including lung, colorectal, breast, prostate, pancreatic, and stomach cancers (22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27).

A unique family of plant compounds called isothiocyanates sets cruciferous vegetables apart from other veggies.

Studies suggest that isothiocyanates reduce oxidative stress, decrease inflammation, and combat the development and growth of cancer (28, 29, 30).

Sulforaphane, the main isothiocyanate in broccoli, acts against the formation of cancer at the molecular level by reducing oxidative stress (31, 32).

Sulforaphane occurs at 10–100 times higher amounts in young broccoli sprouts than in full-grown heads of this vegetable, according to some older research (33).

Though broccoli supplements are also available, they may not contribute an equivalent amount of isothiocyanates and thus may not offer the same health benefits as eating whole, fresh broccoli.

Lower cholesterol levels

Cholesterol has many important functions in your body.

For example, it is a key factor in the formation of bile acids, which help you digest fat. Bile acids are formed in your liver, stored in your gallbladder, and released into your digestive system whenever you eat fat (34, 35).

Afterward, the bile acids are reabsorbed into your bloodstream and used again.

According to some older research, substances in broccoli bind with bile acids in your gut, increasing their excretion and preventing them from being reused (36).

This results in the synthesis of new bile acids from cholesterol, reducing total levels of this marker in your body.

This could potentially help reduce the risk of heart disease (37).

According to one 2008 study, steamed broccoli may be more effective at binding bile acid, which could theoretically lead to lower cholesterol levels. However, research in humans is needed (3).

Eye health

Two of the main carotenoids in broccoli, lutein and zeaxanthin, are associated with a decreased risk of age-related macular degeneration, an eye disease that can impair vision (38).

Additionally, vitamin A deficiency may cause night blindness, which can be reversed with improved vitamin A status (39).

Broccoli contains beta carotene, which your body converts into vitamin A. This vegetable may thus boost eyesight in individuals with a low vitamin A intake.

However, note that broccoli provides less than 1% of the DV for vitamin A. Therefore, it should be enjoyed alongside other foods rich in vitamin A to prevent deficiency (4).


Broccoli’s isothiocyanates may improve many risk factors for disease and reduce your risk of cancer. What’s more, this vegetable may help lower cholesterol and boost eye health.

Broccoli is usually well tolerated, and allergy is rare. However, some considerations are worth mentioning.

Thyroid problems

Broccoli contains goitrogens, which are compounds that may impair thyroid function if consumed in large enough quantities (40).

However, because cooking broccoli can destroy the enzyme responsible for activating goitrogens, this shouldn’t be a concern unless you’re consume raw broccoli in excessive amounts (40).

Blood thinners

Individuals taking the blood thinner warfarin should consult with a healthcare professional before increasing their broccoli intake.

This is because it’s high vitamin K1, which may interact with this medication (41).


Broccoli is usually well tolerated. Still, it may have undesirable effects on the thyroid in some people and may interfere with blood-thinning medicine.

Broccoli is a popular vegetable enjoyed around the globe. It is easy to prepare and edible both raw and cooked.

It is high in many nutrients, including a family of plant compounds called isothiocyanates, which may have numerous health benefits.

What’s more, it’s also a decent source of fiber and provides other beneficial compounds that may help promote eye health, lower cholesterol levels, and protect against chronic disease.