Nutrition, health benefits and recipes

Broccolini is a cruciferous vegetable similar to broccoli. Many people like broccolini because it has a more delicate texture than broccoli. Even picky eaters can find it tasty and easy to prepare.

But what exactly is broccolini, and are there any reasons to consider eating it over traditional broccoli?

This article explores the nutritional value of broccolini, provides an overview of the health benefits of broccolini, and some tips on cooking this nutritious vegetable.

Broccolini (Brassica oleracea var. botrytis) is a cruciferous vegetable in the Brassicaceae family, along with broccoli, kale, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts.

Some restaurateurs and marketers sometimes call it baby broccoli. It’s not an accurate description, however, because broccolini is not the same as conventional broccoli.

In fact, broccolini is a fairly new vegetable, created only in the 1990s as a cross between broccoli and Chinese cabbage (kai-lan), with the aim of creating a tastier version brassica food (1).

ABSTRACT

A cross between traditional broccoli and Chinese kale, broccolini is a cruciferous vegetable from the Brassicaceae family.

Broccoli and broccolini are similar. So if you like one of them, you’ll probably like the other. Both are green plants with a long stem and clusters of florets at the ends.

While broccoli tends to be firmer, with a thicker stalk and denser florets, broccolini has a thinner, more delicate stalk with looser florets that look more like leaves.

This means you can eat broccolini stalks more easily than broccoli stalks, which are much tougher and might be harder to eat and digest raw. Also, you don’t need to peel the broccolini stalks before preparing them.

The texture of broccolini is more like that of asparagus than broccoli. Broccolini also has a milder, milder flavor than broccoli and cooks faster.

You can find broccoli and broccolini in the produce section of most grocery stores.

ABSTRACT

Broccolini has a milder, sweeter flavor than broccoli and a more delicate texture, with thinner stems and more leaf-like florets at the ends.

Nutritionally, broccolini is very similar to broccoli.

Just 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of raw broccolini contain (2):

  • calories: 35
  • Crabs: 6 grams
  • Protein: 3.5 grams
  • Fat: 0 grams
  • Fiber: 5 grams
  • Calcium: 4% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Iron: 7% of DV
  • Potassium: 6% of DV

As you can see, broccolini is very low in calories but relatively high in fiber. As for vegetables, they also provide a good amount of protein.

Broccolini contains a range of micronutrients, including minerals like calcium and iron. It likely also offers several vitamins, although the specific amounts aren’t known (2).

ABSTRACT

Like broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables, broccolini is a good source of fiber. Broccolini also contains protein, potassium, and vitamins A, C, E, and K, along with small amounts of calcium and iron.

Leafy greens like broccolini contain a range of essential micronutrients that may provide additional health benefits. Broccolini and other cruciferous vegetables contain sulfur-rich compounds like sulforaphane — the compound behind many of its purported health benefits.

1. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds

The Brassicaceae family of vegetables is known to be rich in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds, such as carotenoids – the organic yellow, orange and red pigments in plants – and vitamins C and E (3, 4).

Antioxidants are compounds that can prevent damage caused by oxidative stress in your body. Excessive oxidative stress can lead to diseases, many of which result from chronic inflammation (5).

2. May Offer Anticancer Potential

While eating brassica vegetables like broccolini provide so many antioxidants they may have anti-cancer potential (4).

For example, a review of data from case-control studies concluded that a diet rich in cruciferous vegetables probably protects against certain cancers (6).

Daily consumption of cruciferous vegetables was associated with a lower risk of death from all causes in a 17-year study of 88,184 middle-aged people with no history of cancer, heart attack or stroke (seven).

Even more impressive, the sulforaphane in broccolini has antioxidant properties that inhibit cancer cell activation and growth (8, 9, ten).

Keep in mind that human research is lacking, so more studies are needed.

3. May Improve Heart Health

Broccolini may help protect against heart disease.

A study found that eating cruciferous vegetables protected against the development of plaque blockages in the arteries that can prevent proper blood flow to and from your heart, a common cause of heart attacks and strokes. This is also called atherosclerosis (11).

In another study of 1,226 Australian women aged 70 and over without diagnosed atherosclerosis, higher consumption of cruciferous vegetables was associated with a lower risk of death from blocked arteries (12).

Notably, eating more vegetables in total in general, including non-cruciferous varieties, does not appear to provide this same benefit.

The sulforaphane in broccolini has been shown in animal and test-tube studies to help reduce inflammation and prevent narrowing of the arteries (13, 14).

4. Blood sugar control

Eating fiber-rich foods like broccolini can help control blood sugar.

Your body digests fiber-rich broccolini more slowly, helping you stay full longer. This prevents blood sugar spikes that occur with more quickly digested foods like refined carbs, sugary drinks, and candy (15).

Sulforaphane has been shown in animal studies to have a beneficial effect on blood sugar levels (16, 17).

Additionally, in a 12-week study in 97 adults with type 2 diabetes, taking broccoli sprout extract daily with the equivalent of 150 µmol of sulforaphane was effective in lowering fasting blood sugar and improve HgA1c, a marker of long-term blood sugar control. (18).

ABSTRACT

Broccolini is full of sulfur compounds like sulforaphane, which is largely responsible for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. This vegetable may also support heart health and blood sugar control.

Due to its softer texture, broccolini does better when cooked – it can taste a bit wilted when eaten raw. You can use it as you would broccoli.

Broccolini works well tossed into stir-fries, sautéed on the stovetop, roasted in the oven, or grilled. You can also boil or steam it. It usually takes 10 minutes or less to cook.

You can also cut the broccolini into long, thin strips and blanch it by placing it in boiling water for 3 minutes, then immediately transferring it to a bowl of ice water. This way you can save it and freeze it later.

However you choose to cook broccolini, you may want to consider seasoning it or serving it with a dipping sauce to enhance the flavor.

Unfortunately, some of the beneficial plant compounds in broccolini can be significantly reduced when cooked. Still, that doesn’t negate the health benefits that broccolini has to offer (3, 19, 20).

ABSTRACT

Broccolini generally tastes better cooked, as it is milder than broccoli when raw. Try it grilled, roasted, sautéed, steamed or boiled, and consider serving it with a seasoning or dipping sauce.

Broccolini is a member of the cruciferous vegetable family – a cross between broccoli and Chinese kale. It is a good source of fiber, protein and minerals like potassium and iron.

It contains compounds like sulforaphane that are responsible for many of its health benefits, especially its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. Eating broccolini may also support heart health and blood sugar control.

Compared to broccoli, broccolini tastes sweeter, with a mild flavor and a more delicate texture. Still, you can use broccolini in many similar ways and cook it using methods like grilling, sautéing, roasting, steaming, and boiling.

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