While almost all know about broccoli, not everyone might have heard, at the very least, about broccoli rabe. It may resemble that of broccoli, but this broccoli rabe is a class of its own. Broccoli rabe, scientifically referred to as Brassica rapa, is a cool-season crop that features broccoli-like flowering heads turnip-like foliage.
Broccoli rabe is sometimes called as rapini, broccoletto, raab, turnip rabe, and many more names. Broccoli rabe is common in Chinese, French, and Italian cuisines. It is used as a key ingredient in a main dish or presented as a side dish when steamed or sautéed with other spices or vegetables. This vegetable is distinguished for its spicy and slightly bitter taste. Not known to many, broccoli rabe is packed with numerous vitamins and minerals, which fuel the body and improve overall health. Here are some of the health benefits that you can get from broccoli rabe and some recipes you can make out of it.
Top 12 Health Benefits of Broccoli Rabe
Broccoli rabe has its ways to strengthen the immune system and eventually prevent diseases, like flu and colds. A 100-gram serving of this veggie yields 20.2mg of vitamin C, which makes up 34 percent of its recommended daily allowance (RDA). Lower vitamin C intake results to reduced resistance that easily allows diseases to attack your body. Vitamin C effectively guards the body through its powerful antioxidant properties, thereby promoting collagen synthesis.
Strengthens the bones
This powerhouse of nutrients is beneficial to the bones. Broccoli rabe contains 224 µg of vitamin K or 186 percent of the RDA for vitamin K. Vitamin K works to prevent the thinning of the bones, which according to the study, has a chance of reducing the risk of hip bone fracture. The said vitamin is found to strengthen the bone through the occurrence of osteotropic activities in the bones.
Helps fight cancer
It is undeniable that broccoli rabe is a good source of antioxidants that is responsible for starving free radicals, which cause cancer. It also consists of phytochemicals that combat cancer. The phytochemical indole-3-carbonol protects the cells from possible damage brought by free radicals. This paves way to a balanced hormone and decreased yeast infection.
Brassica vegetables like broccoli rabe have been closely associated with cancer risk reduction. It is believed that compounds found in them prevent mutation of DNA and flush out cancer-causing toxins. These compounds also prevent the development of malignant tumors and spread of cancer from one organ to the next.
Promotes heart health
We probably know that vitamin C is an effective tool to strengthen the immune system. But apart from that, this natural antioxidant has another major function and that that is to maintain heart health. Vitamin C is an anti-inflammatory nutrient that decreases the amino acid called homocysteine, which harms the arteries that lead to the heart. In a study, people who took a 500mg of vitamin C as daily supplement found a reduction of 24 percent in their plasma C-reactive protein that signifies good heart health.
Another vitamin instrumental in ensuring the cardiovascular condition is vitamin K, which is considered to effectively reduce the risk of Atherosclerosis or the hardening of the arteries. The said vitamin helps direct the calcium into the bone rather than preventing its build-up in the arteries.
Prevents allergy and asthma
For people suffering from allergy and asthma, broccoli rabe would be of big help. Broccoli rabe is hypoallergenic, which makes it ideal for individuals who normally experience allergic reactions to some food. It boasts of its 83 µg of folic acid that is about 21 percent of its RDA. Food with high level of folate reduces the chances of allergy or asthma attack. In a study published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology in 2009, it was revealed that individuals “with the lowest serum folate levels were 31% more likely to have allergies and 40% more likely to suffer from wheezing” than those who have high folate content in the blood.
Detoxifies the liver
Rapini, the other term for broccoli rabe, is a good source of sulfur. Sulfur is found in many cruciferous vegetables. This element features a substance called methyl solfonyl methane or MSM, which helps in detoxifying the liver. Liver detoxification is highly important considering the enormous functions of liver. It is responsible for bile production, in metabolism of carbohydrates and protein, in resisting infection, and in storing vitamins, among many others. It is because of these functions that make it so necessary to cleanse and maintain the health of the liver.
Prevents migraine attack
Did you know that broccoli rabe helps prevent and counter migraine attack and other types of headache? Studies show that a migraine could be a sign of lack of magnesium in the body. Green leafy vegetables, in general, supplement the body with magnesium to correct the deficiency. Magnesium is also an important nutrient for nerve conduction. This is the reason why consuming broccoli rabe helps you stay sharp and active.
Maintains eye health
When it comes to food that boosts vision, we often look for squash and carrots. But many green leafy vegetables are loaded with substantial vitamin A content. A 100g serving of broccoli rabe comes with 2622 IU of Vitamin A or 87 percent of its RDA. Vitamin A promotes healthy eyesight, thereby preventing impaired or damaged vision, which is a result of a lack of vitamin A in the body.
Aids weight loss
Broccoli rabe is also a great food to aid weight loss or in maintaining one’s weight. This vegetable yields only 22 calories for every 100 grams. The same serving size contains 5.5g of protein making it as the major source of calories. It has 2.7 grams of dietary fiber or 7 percent of its RDA. While it is a calorie food, you know there are enough protein, carbohydrates, and fiber in it. All these will help you maintain your weight and achieve your weight loss goals.
Promotes smooth bowel movement
Vegetables are our go-to when it comes to fiber-loaded food and it includes broccoli rabe. As compared to other cruciferous veggies, broccoli rabe relatively contains more. Apart from making you feel full for a longer period, the dietary fiber allows smooth bowel movement, while preventing constipation.
Regulates blood sugar level
Another benefit of incorporating rapini in your diet is the regulation of blood sugar level. As mentioned, broccoli rabe contains substantial amount of dietary fiber. The fiber digests slowly thereby keeping the blood sugar level stable. Regular consumption of broccoli rabe will help you prevent or manage your diabetes.
Broccoli rabe boosts brain health
This cruciferous vegetable is also found to have cognitive benefits. It boosts brain health and plays a vital role in preventing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. This can be made possible as broccoli has the ability to control neuronal damage in the brain.
It is high time that people recognize the superfood that is broccoli rabe. It is low in calories, high in vitamins and minerals, and has zero cholesterol level. The overall composition of broccoli rabe makes it an ideal vegetable to have everyday.
A 100g serving of broccoli rabe has…
- 22 calories
- Carbohydrates- 28.5g (2% RDA)
- Protein- 3.17g (5.5% RDA)
- Total Fat- 0.49g (2.5% RDA)
- Dietary Fiber- 2.7g (7% RDA)
- Vitamin A- 2622 IU (87% RDA)
- Vitamin B1 or Thiamin- 0.162mg (13.5% RDV)
- Vitamin B2 or Riboflavin- 0.129mg (10% RDV)
- Vitamin B3 or Niacin- 1.221mg (5% RDV)
- Vitamin B5 or Pantothenic Acid- 0.210mg (7.5% RDV)
- Vitamin B6 or Pyridoxine- 0.171mg (14% RDV)
- Vitamin B9 or Folates- 83 µg (21% RDV)
- Vitamin C- 20.2mg (34% RDA)
- Vitamin E- 1.62mg (11% RDA)
- Vitamin K- 224 µg (186% RDA)
- Selenium- 1 µg (1.5% RDA)
- Calcium- 108mg (11% RDA)
- Copper- 0.042mg (5% RDA)
- Magnesium (22mg (5% RDA)
- Zinc- 0.77mg (7% RDA)
- Iron- 2.14mg (5% RDA)
- Manganese- 0.395mg (17% RDA)
- Potassium- 196mg (4% RDA)
History of Broccoli Rabe
This delicious and nutritious vegetable from Brassica family has quite an unclear origin although it is believed to have come from Asia. Many believe that like other leafy vegetables, broccoli rape could have come from China.In the 1977 cookbook by Giuliano Bugialli, The Fine Art of Italian Cooking, it was revealed that recipes using rapini has long been in existence and can be found in Italian cookbooks as early as 14th century.
In the United States, the first company to cultivate broccoli rabe in 1920s was Andy Boy under the umbrella name D’Arrigo Brothers. Nevertheless, it is of experts’ belief that Italian immigrants even before that time have been growing the said vegetable in their kitchen garden.
Fun Facts about Broccoli Rabe
- Broccoli rabe is believed to have been used as a herb in China.
- Broccoli rabe is available in many varieties, namely: Quarantina, Sessantina, Riccia di San Marzano, Centoventina, and Maceratese.
Popular Broccoli Rabe Recipes
Broccoli rabe has a spicy and bitter taste, which may be difficult for some people to incorporate in their diet. But there are a wide range of dishes that may be made using this nutritious broccoli rabe. Here are two easy recipes that you can prepare in your home. Healthy does not mean boring and awful food. To up your game when it comes to fitness, make sure to cook any of these.
Orange-Banana Rapini Smoothie by Incredible Smoothies
- 1 medium banana, peeled
- 2 large orange, deseeded and peeled
- ½ tsp ginger, grated
- 1 cup raw rapini, chopped
- 4 ounces water
- Simply put together all the ingredients in a blender and process it until completely smooth.
- Pour in a glass and serve.
Lemony Shrimp and Broccoli Rabe by Williams Sonoma Taste
- 1 bunch broccoli rabe, stems removed
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 ½ lb medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 2 garlic cloves
- ½ lemon
- Freshly ground pepper
- Preheat the over to 400̊̊F (200̊C).
- On a baking sheet, place a parchment paper. Pile the broccoli rabe and drizzle about 2tbsp of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Toss to coar. Spread the broccoli rabe and bake for 8 minutes.
- In a large bowl, mix the shrimp with the remaining olive oil, mustard, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Move the shrimp from the bowl to a sheet of aluminum foil and spread in a single layer. Fold up the edges of the foil.
- After the broccoli rabe is cooked, transfer the shrimp with foil to the baking sheet beside the broccoli rabe. Roast for about 8 minutes until the shrimp is bright pink. Remove from the oven and squeeze lemon juice over the shrimp and rapini. Serve.
Side Effects of Broccoli Rabe
Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli rabe contain oxalic acid, which may be harmful for people who have history of oxalate urinary stone disease. Also, the high vitamin K content of broccoli rabe may interfere with the effects of anti-coagulant drugs in the body.
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