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Broccoli for strong bones

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Broccoli is rich in vitamins, calcium, beta-carotene and zinc

Broccoli belongs to the Cabbage family. Its common varieties are calabrese and purple sprouting broccoli. It has fleshy, green flower heads, arranged in a tree-like fashion on branches sprouting from a thick, edible stalk. The large mass of flower heads is surrounded by leaves. Broccoli resembles its close relative cauliflower, but is green rather than white.

Cool-weather crop

Broccoli is a cool-weather crop. The word `broccoli' comes from the Latin `brachium' and Italian `brocco' meaning `arm' or `branch'. Broccoli is often referred to as a `cruciferous' vegetable. The Brassicaceae family (also known as the mustard or cabbage family) was formerly called the Cruciferae family, due to the fact that these plants often have four petals which look like crosses. High in Vitamin C and soluble fibre, broccoli is eaten raw, boiled or steamed. It also contains the compound glucoraphanin, leading to an anticancer compound sulforaphane.

Prevents cancer

The tender shoots of broccoli are delicious on sandwiches and salads. Regularly eating broccoli sprouts may help prevent stomach cancer by reducing Helicobacteri pylori (H. pylori) infection, which is known to cause gastritis (stomach inflammation) and peptic ulcer. When it comes to building strong bones, broccoli has got it all for less. One cup of cooked broccoli contains 74 mg of calcium, plus 123 mg of vitamin C, which significantly improves calcium's absorption; all this for a total of only 44 calories. Not only does a cup of broccoli contain the RDA for vitamin C, it also fortifies your immune system with a hefty 1359 mcg of beta-carotene, and small but useful amounts of trace minerals zinc and selenium. Broccoli is good for pregnant women. A cup of broccoli supplies 94 mcg of folic acid, a B-vitamin essential for proper cellular division. Deficiency of folic acid during pregnancy has been linked to several birth defects, including neural tube defects like spina bifida. According to a study, vitamin C-rich foods such as broccoli provide humans with protection against inflammatory polyarthritis, a form of rheumatoid arthritis involving two or more joints. SUPARNA SAHA

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