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Broccoli is widely regarded as one of the "super foods," but not everybody likes it. Here are ten suggestions for making this unusually nutritious vegetable more enticing for your family and yourself.

Broccoli ranks as one of the world's super foods. The health benefits of broccoli are well-documented, versatile, and potent.

Over 500 scientific studies confirm that eating broccoli reduces the risk and enhances recovery from cancer. The chemical sulforaphane, also known as SFN and 1-isothiocyanato-4-(methylsulfinyl)butane, found in broccoli and broccoli raab, activates a process of cellular suicide in lung cancer cells. Aggressive, hard-to-treat prostate cancer is 24 to 78% less likely to occur in men who consume at least one serving of either broccoli or spinach per week. Just one serving of broccoli weekly makes a difference. 

Broccoli is one of the best food sources of a chemical called kaempferol. This antioxidant slows down allergic reactions, sometimes eliminating them, and reduces inflammation in joints and blood vessels.

Broccoli is not a plant source of vitamin D (mushrooms are, however), but it contains chemicals (phylloquinone) that help the body conserve vitamin D.

And even if broccoli didn't contain chemicals with measurable impact on deadly disease, it is a great source of basic nutrition. A 100 gram (3-1/2 ounce) serving of broccoli is just 34 calories, but it provides vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), folate, vitamins C, E, and K, beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, calcium, magnesium, iron, and fiber. Cooking broccoli doesn't necessarily reduce its nutritional value very much. Boiled broccoli still has 67% of the vitamin C content of raw broccoli, for instance, but steamed broccoli has almost 100% of the vitamin content of the raw vegetable.

The problem with serving broccoli to your family is that some people love it and some people hate it. Some people are "super tasters" who have genes that make their noses uniquely sensitive to broccoli's sulfur compounds. However, there are many different ways to make broccoli tastier for even the pickiest eaters. Here are 10 suggestions.

1. Microwave broccoli low and slow

Cooking broccoli (and other cabbage family vegetables) in the microwave longer at a lower setting conserves its antioxidant power. One study found that cooking broccoli for 4 minutes at 900 watts destroyed its antioxidant power, but cooking it for 24 minutes at 180 watts had almost no effect. And you'll also get a more vibrant "greener" green color that makes the vegetable more appealing.

2. If you boil broccoli, shock it in cold water and reheat

If you boil broccoli, have the water boiling before you put the broccoli in. You'll conserve more nutrients and cook the vegetable faster. When the broccoli is tender, take the pot off the heat and drain the cooking water. Then plunge the broccoli into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Warm up to serving temperature just before you eat it. 

This method also preserves color and eliminates a lot of the sulfur-y smell of boiled broccoli.

3. Use broccoli on grilled cheese sandwiches

Roasted broccoli can have a meaty texture with a slightly sweet taste. The centers the florets will be soft and the edges will be crispy--if you don't overcook. Many recipes call for roasting broccoli at 350 degrees F/175 degrees C for half an hour. That's too long. Just toss washed florets in olive oil and sea salt, black pepper, and sliced garlic, as desired, and cook for 10 minutes in a preheated over, then slice to add to grilled cheese sandwiches.

Continue reading after recommendations

  • Gingrass D. Caramelized Broccoli with Garlic. Food & Wine. http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/caramelized-broccoli-with-garlic. Accessed 1 October 2014.
  • Rister, R. Keeping Food's Nutritional Value: Tips For Preserving Vitamins When Cooking Vegetables. Steady Health. http://www.steadyhealth.com/articles/Keeping_Food_s_Nutritional_Value__Tips_for_Preserving_Vitamins_When_Cooking_Vegetables_a2023.html?show_all=1. Accessed 1 October 2014.
  • Photo courtesy of Nomadic Lass by Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/nomadic_lass/12110795213
  • Photo courtesy of GudlyF by Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/gudlyf/3676354955

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