Q: Why do bodybuilders seem to eat more broccoli than any other vegetables? Are there some special constituents to it which make it a better choice?
A: Broccoli seems to be the vegetable that’s singled out as the veg of choice for bodybuilders. You only have to look at a few sample meal plans for bodybuilders, aimed at both cutting and bulking, and you’ll see broccoli mentioned.
Well, it is singled out for a good reason as it is a nutritional powerhouse of a vegetable. It is a rich source of Vitamin A, containing nearly 100 mg per 100 g (the 100 g figures I quote are for cooked weight; raw values are lower because of the greater bulk), and its characteristic dark green colour tells us it is high in carotenoids and vitamin B2 (also known as Riboflavin). The same 100 g will provide around 39 mg of folic acid, 35 mg of calcium, and 58 mg of vitamin C. Also it will supply around 2 g of protein, 2 g of fibre, and vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6 as well as the minerals iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc.
Many people tend only to eat the florets and leave the stems and leaves. If you like their bitter taste, the leaves are also good source of vitamin A, and if you also munch on the stems you get the added benefits of thiamine, riboflavin and niacin, in addition to the goodies found in the florets. If you stick to the florets, which make up most bags of frozen broccoli, then you’ll get around 35% more beta-carotene than from fresh broccoli.
Broccoli is also a rich source of chromium, an element which may work to aid the action of insulin in individuals with a slight glucose intolerance. It also contains sulforaphane which stimulates enzymes that are known to fight cancer, as well as promoting the beneficial actions of such friendly compounds as indoles and aromatic isothiocyanates which have been linked to better health in relation to cancer, diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis and high blood pressure.
Another positive is that broccoli, along with onion, carrots and cabbage, contains calcium pectate (a pectin fibre) that binds to bile acids to hold more cholesterol in the liver, meaning less is released into the bloodstream.
You can see that broccoli really is a mighty vegetable and is worth a place on your dinner plate. But I’m still not really sure why it is singled out above other green vegetables, because all green vegetables carry some of the above positives, and each also has its own unique characteristics. So include broccoli in your diet, but don’t worry if you really can’t stand it as you can still obtain great nutrition by consuming a range of other vegetables every day.
REMEMBER: There is no one food you must have, despite what some people say! If you dislike something, don’t eat it. There are plenty of suitable alternatives to choose from. Learn about nutrition and what suits you! Read advice but stay open-minded and find out what works for you. Enjoy your food!