By Kristy Podruchny
You’ve seen it at the farmers market: the vegetable that looks like broccoli and kale had a lovechild. Broccoli rabe, also known as rapini, contains all the benefits of both in its leafy bouquet. This nutritionally dense vegetable is a secret super food and is worthy of our attention.
There’s more goodness to be found in broccoli rabe’s vitamin and mineral content. It contains vitamins A, B6, C, E, and K along with calcium, potassium, magnesium, folate, niacin and manganese. Let’s not forget thiamin and niacin. With stats like these, you start to question whether or not that generic multivitamin is necessary.
Omega Fatty Acids
Chronic inflammation wreaks havoc on the human body. It can cause a vicious cycle for our gut flora, increase our risk for cancer, cardiovascular disease and others. The anti-inflammatory properties from broccoli rabe come from the omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acid content. This is good news for vegans and others who prefer not to have fish on the menu.
Eat Your Fiber
The fiber content alone is enough to bring attention to broccoli rabe. Soluble fiber specifically allows sugar to be absorbed slowly to help prevent spikes. It also helps lower harmful LDL cholesterol. Simply put, soluble fiber grabs it and flushes it out. Both soluble and insoluble fiber help keep you full and satisfied.
Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli rabe contain phytochemicals called glucosinolates. These cancer fighters help detox and block carcinogens while reducing inflammation. The key is to make sure this phytochemical is absorbed using an enzyme called myrosinase. Cooking, especially at high temperatures, can deactivate the enzyme and reduce absorption. Our leafy, cancer-prevention ally works best if consumed as raw as possible.
Ready To Eat?
Don’t get intimidated by broccoli rabe’s extensive nutritional pedigree and deep green color–there are many great ways to include this super food in your diet. Boiling and blanching will take the bitterness away. You can also toss chopped and sauteed broccoli rabe in a pasta dish with some peppery olive oil for a mouthwatering dinner. If you don’t mind the sharp bitter taste, try complementing your salad with a few broccoli rabe leaves. Massaging the leaves with salt or salad dressing will change the texture and flavor too. There are so many reasons to keep your eye out for this super food on your next trip to the grocery store or farmers market.
These cancer fighters help detox and block carcinogens while reducing inflammation.