Choose broccoli that is bright green and has no yellow parts, especially no yellow flowers. The broccoli florets should be compact and not bruised. The stalks should be firm and have no brown spots and the leaves should not be wilted.
Do not wash broccoli when you get it home from the market. You should store broccoli in a plastic bag, left open in a drawer in the refrigerator. It should last about a week or so.
The most important part of preparing broccoli is making sure not to overcook it. Overcooking will cause broccoli to lose vital nutrients and flavor. It only needs about 4 to 5 minutes of steaming or 2 to 3 minutes of blanching in salted water.
Broccoli should still be slightly crispy when finished, not mushy. If possible, the stems and florets should be prepared separately. The stems are hardier and take slightly longer than the florets to cook. Cooking broccoli as little as possible is the best bet, it will keep the nutrients intact and keep the flavor packed in.
Broccoli is an excellent source of vitamins C, K, and A as well as folate, fiber, potassium, vitamins B6 and B2, and phosphorus. Additionally, broccoli is a great source of calcium, iron, zinc and vitamin E.
Studies have shown that broccoli may prevent cancer, particularly cancer of the bladder, ovarian and prostate. Broccoli is also hailed for its detox and cleansing capabilities, aid in digestive health, and skin health.
Broccoli has been shown to protect against cataracts, keep bones stronger, and help maintain a healthy immune system. Broccoli is also beneficial for pregnant women in that it helps to reduce birth defects.
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