Scientific Name: Brassica oleracea
Broccoli (Brassica oleracea) plants have a thick green stalk or stem, which gives rise to thick, leathery, oblong leaves that are gray-blue to green in color. This vegetable is in a genus of plants that include cabbages and mustard plants. It contains high amounts of dietary fiber and several essential vitamins: vitamins C and K. Its English name, broccoli, comes from the Italian plural of broccolo, which means "the flowering crest of a cabbage." Broccoli has been an important food source since the Roman Empire.
Broccoli has many nutritional benefits. It contains high amounts of the antioxidant, vitamin C. Vitamin C is also involved in the production of collagen. Collagen is an important component of skin, muscles, and other connective tissues. An amount of 100 g (3.5 oz) of broccoli contains 152% daily value (DV) of vitamin C, which is higher than that of oranges (89% DV).
The dietary fiber (10% DV) in broccoli helps regulate cholesterol and aids digestion. Broccoli is also rich in vitamin K (128% DV). Vitamin K builds strong bones and reduces the risk of fractures. This is because vitamin K has a positive effect on calcium levels, which is a key mineral in bone metabolism. Vitamin K also plays a critical role in normal blood clotting.