You must have seen a piece broccoli before – you may have even tried eating it! But what about broccoli rabe? Have you heard of that one? Probably not. That’s understandable, since broccoli rabe is less frequently found at meals. I’m telling you, though, this nutrient-rich vegetable with its familiar name has a lot of health benefits. So, if you’re looking for a new and interesting addition to your diet, broccoli rabe is a great choice. Give this article a read to learn more about it!
Broccoli Rabe: What is It?
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Broccoli rabe is a cruciferous vegetable that is more closely related to turnips than to broccoli. Still, the plant looks like it has long stalks of broccoli, topped with humungous leaves which almost resemble those of spinach. Its leaves, flowers and stalks are all edible.
Scientifically, they call broccoli rabe Brassica rabe. It is also called raspini in various parts of the world. This particular vegetable is commonly found in China and Italy, and has been for ages, but it has only recently entered the United States.
The taste of broccoli rabe is a bit bitter but similar to broccoli. Generally, people add it to pasta, specifically in traditional Italian dishes. It has a very unique nutrient profile, which makes it desirable for those who are looking for healthy vegetable options.
It is a seasonal crop at its best during the cooler months, as it needs moist, fertile and well-drained soil in order to yield good harvests. Generally, its stem is trimmed at the ground level when the plant reaches 12-15 inches in height. The completely matured broccoli rabe features some broccoli-like small flowerheads. The exposure of the plant to excessive daylight and high-ranging temperatures may result in bolting. The rabe has frilly, jagged, broad leaves with somewhat of a spicy, peppery and bitter taste.
Nutritional Content of Broccoli Rabe
Broccoli rabe is rich in vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C and glucosinolates. Not only that, it also has ample amounts of zinc, potassium, magnesium, calcium, folate, iron, and dietary fiber, as well as trace amounts of omega 3 fatty acids. Despite all this, it has an impressively low amount of calories per cup.
The glucosinolates that are essential in treating breast, colon, prostate and lung cancer. Moreover, its bitterness is also an indication that it is a good source of folate – a good B vitamin which protects against heart disease and birth defects.
If you want to know more about the nutrients found in broccoli rabe, refer to the table below.
|Principle||Amount||% Daily Value|
|Total Fat||0.49 grams||2.5%|
|Dietary Fiber||2.7 grams||7%|
|Pantothenic acid||0.210 milligrams||7.5%|
|Vitamin A||2622 IU||87%|
|Vitamin C||20.2 milligrams||34%|
|Vitamin E||1.62 milligrams||11%|
|Vitamin K||224 micrograms||186%|
Health Benefits of Broccoli Rabe
Here are some of the most surprising health benefits of broccoli rabe:
- Helps lower neural tube defects. Due to the high amount of folate (a key vitamin) in broccoli rabe, it is beneficial in lowering the risk of neural tube defects, especially in pregnant women.
- Helps prevent cancer. This is one of the best health benefits of broccoli rabe. Research suggests that the antioxidants present in broccoli rabe are essential in lowering cancer levels. Furthermore, the phytochemicals in it are specifically vital in lowering inflammation and oxidative stress in the body.
- Helps protect the health of our heart. Some active ingredients in broccoli rabe are beneficial in lowering the levels of homocysteine, which may contribute to cardiovascular problems, degradation of the arteries and blood vessels and high blood pressure.
- Helps improve bone strength. With its moderate amount of potassium, zinc, iron, calcium and magnesium, it is beneficial in strengthening bones and preventing osteoporosis, especially when consumed regularly.
- Helps control diabetes. With its high levels of dietary fiber, it is a great tool for lowering blood sugar. This is due to fiber’s ability to control glucose and insulin release in the body.
How to Cook Broccoli Rabe
The best way to cook this vegetable is to start by blanching its leaves. In order to do this, you need to add the leaves to a pot of salted water that has been brought to a boil. Allow them to boil for 1 to 2 minutes, then strain the leaves out. Add the broccoli rabe leaves to meat dishes or pasta to add a kick to your dishes.