Better Broccoli Salad starts with broccoli florets (which are blanched to make them optimally tender) and features toasted nuts, raisins and red onion. MUST CREDIT: Photo by Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post.

A Gardener’s Diary: Broccoli front line in cancer fight

Benefits of growing broccoli outweigh cons, including aphids

In my July column, I mentioned I would not grow brassicas again after having to fight with aphids and not being successful with them. However, after I removed the top of the broccoli plants and some of the leaves infested with aphids, some side shoots started to grow and with the cooler days of September, I started harvesting them regularly. My last harvest was on the 22nd and I had enough to eat and freeze some for a couple of meals. I will surely grow broccoli again.

The stems (peel the outside) and the leaves are also edible and on the internet, I found many sites with recipes using only leaves. Then last week I was reading a health newsletter that I get from France (Laboratoire Cell’Innov and the article written by Eric Muller) and it was all about the benefits of eating broccoli.

Broccoli is the most incredible vegetable for health. It has anti-cancer properties. It can stop osteoarthritis. It improves heart health. It maintains vision. It preserves the memory. And that’s not all. Broccoli is an excellent source of vitamins (in order of proportion) C, K, B2, B9, A, B5, B6, E.

This is a good source of essential minerals: copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and potassium.

Here are 5 reasons to love broccoli:

  1. Broccoli is anticancer. Broccoli contains in its leaves many glucosinolates and the enzyme myrosinase. Myrosinase is also very sensitive to heat, so raw broccoli is much more beneficial to your health than cooked broccoli. Broccoli reduces the risk of lung, prostate, ovarian, breast (in postmenopausal women), kidney, and colorectal cancer. Also, consuming broccoli three-to-five times per week significantly reduces the risk of cancer. Another study found that regular consumption of broccoli can increase the chances of survival against bladder cancer.
  2. Broccoli fights osteoarthritis: British researchers conducted an experiment in vitro and in vivo in mice with osteoarthritis cells. The sulforaphane showed it could block the enzymes that destroy cartilage. This is a very promising result. Clinical trials on humans are underway.
  3. Broccoli is good for your heart: Broccoli contains powerful flavonoid kaempferol. According to studies, a high kaempferol intake is associated with a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease. Eating broccoli reduces blood levels of homocysteine. This helps reduce the risk of heart disease.
  4. Broccoli preserves eye health: Broccoli is rich in antioxidants, such as lutein and zeaxanthin. These antioxidants neutralize the harmful particles that accumulate in your body because of the pollution, stress, and poor diet. They help reduce the risk of cancer and degenerative diseases. Lutein and zeaxanthin are recognized as effective in protecting the retina and macula of the eye. They reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. Surprisingly: the number of antioxidants in broccoli increases in light cooking.
  5. Broccoli maintains memory: Researchers followed 13,000 elderly women for 25 years. They monitored their diet and assessed their cognitive abilities. Result: the ones consuming cruciferous (like broccoli) experienced less cognitive decline.

READ MORE: A Gardener’s Diary: preventing blossom-end rot

READ MORE: Gardening column: A gardener’s diary

Jocelyne Sewell is an avid gardener in Vernon. To reach her, call 250-558-4556 or email

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