Broccoli flowers
Broccoli flowers
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Broccoli's name is derived from the Latin word brachium, which means branch or arm, a reflection of its tree-like shape that features a compact head of florets attached by small stems to a larger stalk.
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Broccoli's name is derived from the Latin word brachium, which means branch or arm, a reflection of its tree-like shape that features a compact head of florets attached by small stems to a larger stalk. Because of its different components, this vegetable provides a complex of tastes and textures, ranging from soft (the florets) to fibrous and crunchy (the stem and stalk). Its color can range from deep sage to dark green to purplish-green, depending upon the variety.

Choose broccoli with floret clusters that are compact and not bruised. They should be uniformly colored, either dark green, sage or purple-green, depending upon variety, and with no yellowing. In addition, they should not have any yellow flowers blossoming through, as this is a sign of over maturity. The stalk and stems should be firm with no slimy spots appearing either there or on the florets. If leaves are attached, they should be vibrant in color and not wilted. 
Broccoli is very perishable and should be stored in open plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper where it will keep for a week. Since water on the surface will encourage its degradation, do not wash the broccoli before refrigerating. Broccoli that has been blanched and then frozen can stay up to a year. Leftover cooked broccoli should be placed in tightly covered container and stored in the refrigerator where it will keep for a few days. 

Broccoli contains the phytonutrients sulforaphane and the indoles, which have significant anti-cancer effects. Research on indole-3-carbinol shows this compound helps deactivate a potent estrogen metabolite (4-hydroxyestrone) that promotes tumor growth. Indole-3-carbinol has been shown to suppress not only breast tumor cell growth, but also cancer cell metastasis (the movement of cancerous cells to other parts of the body). Scientists have found that sulforaphane boosts the body's detoxification enzymes, thus helping to clear potentially carcinogenic substances more quickly.

Broccoli and other leafy green vegetables contain powerful phytonutrient antioxidants in the carotenoid family called lutein and zeaxanthin, both of which are concentrated in large quantities in the lens of the eye.

One cup of cooked broccoli contains 74 mg of calcium, plus 123 mg of vitamin C, which significantly improves calcium's absorption; all this for a total of only 44 calories.

Not only does a cup of broccoli contain the RDA for vitamin C, it also fortifies your immune system with a hefty 1359 mcg of beta-carotene, and small but useful amounts of zinc and selenium, two trace minerals that act as cofactors in numerous immune defensive actions.
Especially if you are pregnant, be sure to eat broccoli. A cup of broccoli supplies 94 mcg of folic acid, a B-vitamin essential for proper cellular division because it is necessary in DNA synthesis. Without folic acid, the fetus' nervous system cells do not divide properly. Deficiency of folic acid during pregnancy has been linked to several birth defects, including neural tube defects like spina bifida.