Fitness

Health Benefits of Broccoli Rabe

Broccoli rabe (also known as rapini, broccoli raab, or broccoli de rape) is a cruciferous vegetable with a leafy texture. Broccoli rabe, unlike broccolini, does not belong to the broccoli family. Instead, it is a member of the Brassica family. It is related to turnips, though you can often cook it like leafy greens.

Long broccoli stalks with spinach leaves and small, broccoli-like florets at the top characterise this vegetable. All stems, leaves, and florets are edible. This vegetable is nutritious, simple to prepare, and associated with numerous health benefits. However, broccoli rabe has a bitter flavour when eaten raw, so cooking and seasoning it is recommended. 

Broccoli is a descendant of a wild herb that originated in the Mediterranean and China, and it is now present in California, Arizona, New Jersey, Quebec, and Ontario. It’s one of the most popular vegetables among Chinese people. It is the most popular vegetable in Hong Kong and is also widely used in the rest of the world. It is commonly used in Italian and Chinese cooking and is gaining popularity in the United States. This vegetable contains vitamins A, C, and K and potassium. This nutritional powerhouse has numerous health benefits, including cancer-fighting properties and the potential to reduce the risk of chronic disease.

Nutritional Properties of Broccoli Rabe

As per USDA, 100 grams of Broccoli Rabe contains the following nutritional values.

  • Water: 92.6 g
  • Energy: 22 kcal
  • Protein: 3.17 g
  • Lipid (fat): 0.49 g
  • Carbohydrate: 2.85 g
  • Fibre, total dietary: 2.7 g
  • Sugars: 0.38 g

Vitamins and Minerals

Various vitamins and minerals are present in Broccoli Rabe.

  • Calcium, Ca: 108 mg
  • Iron, Fe: 2.14 mg
  • Potassium, K: 196 mg
  • Sodium, Na: 33 mg
  • Vitamin C (ascorbic acid): 20.2 mg
  • Folate: 83 µg
  • Choline: 18.3 mg
  • Vitamin A, RAE:131 µg
  • Carotene, beta: 1570 µg
  • Vitamin K (phylloquinone): 224 µg

Nutritional Facts to Consider

Broccoli rabe contains negligible concentrations of fat (0.49g), making it a poor source of desirable fats such as omega-3 fatty acids. However, a reasonable amount of cooked broccoli rabe can help you get more fatty acids into your diet. Therefore, people on low-fat diets will benefit from this veggie.

Vitamins K, A, E, C, and folate in broccoli rabe help promote a range of biological functions, including skin, visual, bone strengthening, and immune health. It also contains calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and iron. Furthermore, it’s also high in potassium and low in sodium, which helps keep blood pressure in control. 

Broccoli rabe is abundant in glucosinolates and sulphur-containing compounds that give the vegetable its unique taste and provide the most health benefits. One of the best features of broccoli rabe is that it is cholesterol-free. Moreover, it is suitable for a wide range of diet plans due to its unique nutrient distribution.

The HealthifyMe Note

Broccoli rabe is low in calories and can be a beneficial source of nutrients to add to keto-diets because of its low carbohydrates. As a result, it can help lower blood sugar levels and lessen the risk of diabetes by reducing the absorption of sugar. However, it is not a rich source of protein. So, pair it with lean meats like fish, chicken, or tofu for a healthy and balanced meal. In addition, it contains several vitamins and minerals, making it beneficial for you.

Health Benefits of Broccoli Rabe

Helps in Weight Management

Broccoli rabe has a high water volume, which helps you stay hydrated. Hydrating vegetables and fruits can also increase your metabolic rate. For example, a study showed an increase in metabolic rate by 30% within 10 minutes of drinking 17 ounces of water. A healthy metabolism is essential to burning fat and losing weight.

Broccoli rabe also has a high fibre content, which leaves you feeling satisfied and full for longer and helps keep things moving in the GI tract. In addition, studies show that a high-fibre diet keeps you satiated for extended periods, which may aid in weight loss.

Broccoli rabe is also appropriate for various vegan, gluten-free, and keto diets. So, those looking at losing weight healthily and sustainably can incorporate broccoli rabe into their diet. 

Broccoli Rabe Improves Skin Health

Research shows that green vegetables like broccoli rabe include phytochemicals and antioxidants that can help protect your skin from UV damage. They do this by counteracting free radicals in your body and slowing the destruction of collagen and elastin, which are essential components of the skin.

Improves Heart Health and Prevents Cardiovascular Diseases

According to research, people who consume more dietary fibre have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and death. In addition, they noted that whole fibre intake causes a considerable reduction in total serum cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein(“the bad cholesterol”).

Broccoli rabe offers a potent dose of fibre, vitamins, and minerals, including antioxidants and phytochemicals, shown to lower cholesterol, prevent heart disease and help reduce cancer risk. Furthermore, broccoli rabe offers powerful anti-inflammatory nutrients, such as folate and vitamin C. The veggie has ten times more folic acid than blueberries. Glucosinolates may improve heart health by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress in your artery walls. Thus, improving blood flow and preventing plaque buildup.

Broccoli Rabe Improves Eye Health

Carrots get most of the attention regarding eye health. However, broccoli rabe and other leafy greens contain lutein, which helps protect your eyes from harmful light rays. Broccoli rabe also includes lutein, an antioxidant protecting your eyes from free radical damage. Also, zeaxanthin, another antioxidant found in broccoli, is quite helpful. Both chemicals help prevent macular degeneration, an incurable disorder that causes central visual blurring, and cataracts, a clouding of the eye’s lens.

According to research, the carotenoid pigments lutein and zeaxanthin help protect the eye.

Improves Digestion

Broccoli rabe is an ideal source of dietary fibre. It helps improve bowel movements by absorbing water in the intestines, softening the stool, and preventing constipation. In addition, research suggests that dietary fibre intake increases stool frequency in patients with constipation. Fibre also helps maintain healthy bacteria levels in the intestines.

Broccoli rabe also aids in digestion by helping to keep your stomach lining healthy. The sulforaphane in broccoli prevents the stomach bacteria Helicobacter pylori from overgrowing or clinging too firmly to the stomach wall.

Regulates Blood Pressure

Hypertension might lead to heart failure or stroke when worsened. It contains a good amount of potassium, which helps regulate blood pressure. As per research, the potassium in Broccoli rabe has antihypertensive properties. It helps reduce the stress on blood vessels by widening the arteries, making blood flow easier. Therefore, it regulates blood pressure and prevents hypertension. It is also a good source of magnesium, which helps in energy production.

Improves Brain Health

Manganese, an essential trace mineral, helps the body heal after an injury and aids in bone formation and brain function. Manganese is also necessary for DNA polymerase and glutamine metabolism. This mineral also protects cells from oxidative stress. Plus, it stimulates enzymes essential for amino acids, carbs, and cholesterol metabolism. 

According to studies, abnormal manganese concentrations in the brain, particularly in the basal ganglia, are linked to neurological illnesses, including Parkinson’s.

Reduces Risk of Cancer

Broccoli rabe is a type of Brassica vegetable. Studies have shown Brassica vegetables, including rapini broccoli, contain phenolic compounds that can act as antioxidants. Research suggests that consuming antioxidant-rich vegetables has many health benefits because antioxidants lower cancer risk and protect against free radicals. Broccoli rabe is high in antioxidants, which have anti-cancer properties.

Studies show that glucosinolates degrade into secondary metabolites such as isothiocyanate and sulforaphane. These have antioxidant and anti-tumour properties that prevent cancerous cells from spreading. In addition, broccoli rabe contains other antioxidant compounds that help fight against cancer cells, such as flavonoids, phenolics, carotenoids, tocopherols, and ascorbic acid or vitamin C.

Broccoli Rabe is Ideal for Pregnant Women

Vitamin B12 (commonly known as folate) is naturally present in fruits and vegetables. Since the human body cannot store this vitamin, we must consume high-folate foods daily. Studies show vitamin B12 helps prevent neural tube defects and spinal severe and brain abnormalities. Therefore, a lack of folate in pregnant women can have severe consequences for the brain development of their unborn children.

The HealthifyMe Note

Broccoli rabe is a source of vitamins A, C, and K and potassium. It is a nutrient-packed superfood that contains water, protein, lipid, fibre, and carbohydrates. The various vitamins and minerals include calcium, magnesium, sodium, folate, lutein, zeaxanthin, and Vitamin C, B6 and D. They promote overall health, heart, brain, skin, and eye, reduce weight, prevent cancer and regulate blood pressure.

Ways to Include Broccoli Rabe in Your Diet

  • Broccoli Rabe can be sautéed or simmered with olive oil, garlic, chilli pepper, and anchovies.
  • It goes well with orecchiette, other pasta, or pan-fried sausage as a soup element.
  • Before being cooked further, broccoli rabe is sometimes (but not always) blanched.
  • Rapini is popular in Italian-American kitchens in the United States; the D’Arrigo Brothers popularised the ingredient and gave it the name broccoli rabe.
  • Some sub sandwiches contain broccoli rabe.
  • Italian-style roast pork with locally manufactured sharp provolone cheese, broccoli rabe, and peppers is a favourite sandwich in Philadelphia.
  • It goes well with pasta dishes, especially with Italian sausage.
  • To incorporate broccoli rabe into your diet, roast it and serve it as a side dish with chicken or fish.
  • Broccoli rabe is also delicious in sauces and salads, and you can bake it into chips like kale chips.
  • Roasting or a quick blanch is advisable to eat to help reduce its natural bitterness. It can be served with vegetables as a side dish, cooked into chips, or added to sauces or pasta.

Healthy Recipes Using Broccoli Rabe

Broccoli Rabe Chips

Serves: 4

Prep: 10 mins

Cook: 15 mins

Total: 25 mins

Ingredients

  • Broccoli Rabe: About 2-3 cups
  • Olive Oil: 2 tbsp
  • Lemon Juice: 2 tbsp
  • Pepper: ¼ tsp
  • Parmesan Cheese: 1 tbsp

Method of Preparation

  • Preheat the oven to 300°F.
  • Cut broccoli rabe leaves and florets into 1″ pieces and put them on a baking sheet.
  • Massage the oil and lemon juice into the broccoli rabe with your hands.
  • Top broccoli rabe with pepper.
  • Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes.
  • Take the tray from the oven to flip the chips and bake for another 3-5 minutes. 
  • Keep an eye on the chips when you bake the dish a second time in the oven because they might burn quickly.
  • Remove the tray from the oven, top with parmesan cheese, and set aside to cool.

Broccoli Rabe Tropical Power Smoothie

Serves: 2

Prep: 5 min

Cook: 2 min

Total: 7 min

Ingredients

  • Broccoli Rabe Leaves (Stems Removed): 1 cup
  • Apple: 1 (cored)
  • Banana: 1 (peeled)
  • Parsley: ¼ cup
  • Plain Yoghurt: ¼ cup
  • Honey: 2 tsp
  • Pineapple Juice: 1 cup

Method of Preparation

  • In a mixer jar, combine all ingredients and blend on high until completely smooth.
  • Serve the smoothie in glasses with a few broccoli rabe leaves.

Storage and Usage

When buying this vegetable, look for one with firm, tight stalks. Also, the cut ends of the stalks should be fresh. Finally, remember that the more green it is, the more beta-carotene it contains.

You can store it at 32 degrees Fahrenheit for up to 28 days in its raw form. Do not store this cruciferous vegetable in a plastic bag or sealed container. Leftovers should be covered and refrigerated after cooking and consumed within three days.

Possible Adverse Effects

Goitre

Goitre is a thyroid gland enlargement caused by a lack of iodine.It is very unlikely unless you consume a lot of broccoli rabe. In these rare situations, Goitrin could be the reason. It is a breakdown product of progoitrin, one of the glucosinolates in cruciferous vegetables. 

Goitrin inhibits the use of iodine in the thyroid gland, increasing the risk of goitre and hypothyroidism. 

Research shows that Glycosides (also known as ‘glucosinolates’) are goitre-causing agents in the cabbage family. These include cabbage, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, turnips, rapeseed, and mustard seed.

Kidney Disorders

Broccoli Rabe has a high potassium content. According to research, it is harmful to people who have kidney disease. When the kidney’s function deteriorates, it must exert more effort to excrete potassium. As a result, the condition may deteriorate further. In such cases, it is best to avoid broccoli rabe. Before consuming them, consult your doctor or a dietitian.

Oxalic acid is present in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli rabe, which can be detrimental to persons with a history of oxalate urinary stone disease.

Disrupt Thyroid Hormones

Rabe, as a member of the brassica family of greens, may contain goitrogens. Excessive levels of goitrogens in the diet can interfere with thyroid hormone production and lead to thyroxine hormone insufficiency in people who already have thyroid problems.

Hinders with absorption of Nutrients

The high phytate and dietary fibre content of broccoli raab greens may interfere with iron, calcium, and magnesium absorption.

Medications

Studies show that high levels of vitamin K in the body may interfere with the effects of anticoagulant medications.

Summary

Broccoli Rabe belongs to the Brassica family and is related to turnips. However, you can usually cook it like leafy greens. This vegetable has long broccoli stalks with spinach leads and small broccoli-like florets at the top. This vegetable is nutritious, easy to prepare, and has numerous health benefits.

Broccoli rabe (also known as rapini) is a nutrient-dense superfood that contains water, protein, fat, fibre, and carbohydrates. Furthermore, calcium, magnesium, sodium, folate, lutein, zeaxanthin, and vitamins C, B6, D, and others promote overall health in terms of heart, brain, skin, and eye health like weight loss, cancer prevention, and blood pressure regulation. However, adverse effects may lead to goitre and kidney disorders and interfere with the results of anticoagulant medications.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. Is broccoli rabe a Superfood?

A. Broccoli rabe (also known as rapini) is a nutrient-packed superfood worth seeking as it contains water, protein, lipid, fibre, and carbohydrates. Various vitamins and minerals include calcium, magnesium, sodium, folate, lutein, zeaxanthin, and Vitamin C, B6, D, etc. Promote overall health in the heart, brain, skin, and eye, reduce weight, prevent cancer and regulate blood pressure.

Q. Which is healthier, broccoli rabe or broccoli?

A. Broccoli and broccoli rabe are nutritionally equivalent. They have nearly the same amount of protein and fibre per serving, but broccoli has twice the number of carbs as broccoli rabe. They both share health benefits and also have similar tastes.

Q. Which is healthier, broccoli rabe or spinach?

A. As per the data, we can observe that Vitamin B1 is higher in broccoli rabe. On the other hand, vitamin K, vitamin A, folate, manganese, magnesium, potassium, copper, vitamin C, and iron are higher in spinach. 

Spinach has a 216% higher vitamin K content than broccoli rabe. In contrast, broccoli rabe contains twice as much Vitamin B1 as spinach. Therefore, you should consume foods as per your requirements. Broccoli rabe is the best choice for a low-carb, low-calorie diet.

Q. Is broccoli rabe good for digestion?

A. broccoli aids digestion by helping to keep your stomach lining healthy due to the presence of dietary fibre. In addition, the sulforaphane in broccoli prevents the stomach bacteria Helicobacter pylori from overgrowing or clinging too firmly to the stomach wall.

Q. Does broccoli rabe make you gassy?

A. Yes, it can make you gassy. That is because its fibre content can reach the colon and be acted on by bacteria in our bodies, releasing gas and one of its carbohydrates, raffinose. But unfortunately, our bodies lack the enzyme required to break down this trisaccharide.

Q. Can you eat raw broccoli rabe?

A. Yes, broccoli rabe can be consumed raw. Raw broccoli rabe may produce a more bitter flavour, but blanching it will give it a milder flavour.

Q. Is broccoli rabe high in iron?

A. Broccoli rabe high in iron because it allows red blood cells to transport oxygenated blood throughout the body; iron is an essential mineral for energy. A deficiency of iron can cause fatigue and weakness.

Q. Is broccoli rabe high in fibre?

A. As per USDA, 100 grams of broccoli rabe contains 2.7 g of total fibre and a significant quantity of fibre and plant-based protein while low in calories. Like other cruciferous vegetables, Broccoli rabe is high in sulphur-containing chemicals called glucosinolates.

Q. What’s the difference between broccoli and broccoli rabe?

A. Broccoli rabe is not the same as broccoli; instead, it has a close relationship with the turnip. It’s a bitter green, similar to a mustard green, with thin stalks, little buds, and lots and lots of leaves. Although the flavour softens as it cooks, broccoli rabe has a harsh, earthy, and nutty flavour. It’s popular in Italian cuisine and softens them the most when sautéing or blanching the stalks and leaves.

Q. Does broccoli rabe have high potassium?

A. As per USDA, 100 grams of broccoli rabe contains 196 g of potassium which is relatively high in content. Therefore, broccoli rabe has a high potassium level in one serving, making it a high-potassium vegetable. As a result, persons who are potassium sensitive or have kidney problems should avoid eating this vegetable. 

Q. Is there protein in broccoli rabe?

A. As per USDA, 100 grams of broccoli rabe consists of only 3.17 g of protein. Therefore, this cruciferous vegetable shouldn’t be your primary protein source. Instead, stir-fry the veggie with lean meats like beef, fish, pork, chicken, or tofu to make a balanced dinner.

Q. Is broccoli rabe good for blood sugar?

A. Broccoli is an excellent source of dietary fibre. Fibres take a long time to break down and digest, ensuring that your body metabolises the glucose slowly and preventing unexpected blood sugar spikes. As a result, broccoli has a very low Glycemic Index of 15, making it an excellent choice for people with diabetes.

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