Broccoli for health


Dr Balbir Dhotra, Dr Satesh Kumar
Broccoli (Brassica oleracea L. var italica) is an important vegetable crop and a new introduction to India. Broccoli is often boiled or steamed but may be eaten raw.
Broccoli is an edible green plant in the cabbage family whose large flowering head is eaten as a vegetable. Broccoli is classified in the Italica cultivar group of the species Brassica oleracea. Broccoli has large flower heads, usually green in color, arranged in a tree-like structure branching out from a thick, edible stalk. The mass of flower heads is surrounded by leaves. Broccoli resembles cauliflower, which is a different cultivar group of the same species.
The health benefits of broccoli are partly associated with secondary plant compounds known for their antioxidant activity. Prominent components of broccoli are glucosinolates (?-thioglucoside-N-hydroxy-sulfates) which are present in all members of the family Brassicaceae. Glucosinolates (GLS) and products of their breakdown are known for antifungal, bactericidal, nematicidal, and allelopathic properties. From the glucosinolates group, broccoli contains mostly sulforaphane, which has proven anticancer activity. It was identified as a product of enzymatic or acid hydrolysis of corresponding glucoraphanin. SF is connected with a reduced risk of prostate and lung cancer. It suppresses and kills Helicobacter pylori, which is responsible for ulcer disease and is considered an agent in many cases of stomach cancer. It is fairly rich in carotene and ascorbic acid and contains appreciable quantities of thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and iron. Included in these benefits are better retention of vitamin C and sulforaphane when broccoli is steamed rather than boiled. In a recent study on organically grown broccoli, researchers noticed an association between the deep green color of the broccoli florets and their total carotenoid content. Two carotenoids found in significant concentrations in broccoli-lutein and zeaxanthin-play an especially important role in the health of the eye. In fact, no tissue in the body is more concentrated with lutein than the area in the outer portion of the retina (called the peripheral retina). The metabolic impact of broccoli glucosinolates overlaps substantially with the metabolic changes needed to lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
The winter climate of Jammu region is very much suitable for luxuriant growth of broccoli. Recently it is gaining importance due to increasing awareness of nutritional security and quality produce as well as reasonable tourist influx in region. Division of Vegetable Science and Floriculture, FOA, SKUAST, Chatha Jammu has recently released new variety namely Jammu Broccoli-07 (Early Green), which is adaptable to sub-tropical and low hill zone of the region. The variety is characterized by dark green curds and leaves with wavy margins, upright plant type with low chilling requirement. The central curd which is the main edible portion, after attaining a weight of 100-150 g is harvested for culinary/soup purposes and later on lateral shoots 6-7 in number and weighing 50-60g can be subsequently harvested. The variety can be sown in the month of September for nursery preparation and transplanted in the first fortnight of October with a small quantity of seed i.e.,25g/kanal. It is a new crop to be introduced in the region and shows earliness with ability to set seed in tropical plains of Jammu region. Quality seed of the variety is being made available to the growers through the Division and Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) for its adoption on large scale in the State. Constant efforts are afoot to motivate vegetable growers to take up cultivation of broccoli for higher returns per unit area.