Broccoli for President? No, But… President for Broccoli!

CrucifersWhen asked about his favorite food at the second annual Kids’ State Dinner at the White House, President Obama replied “broccoli.” Almost immediately following was a deluge of tweets poking both fun and criticism regarding the comment. Wow, it’s tough being President! You can’t even say you like broccoli without causing a social media storm! I remember a previous President that actually verbalized a disdain for it and received less criticism. As a dietitian who makes a living encouraging, cajoling, and all but begging clients to eat fruits and veggies, I was very happy to hear it, however.

One of the most recent food faddisms is “superfoods.” Not that they bestow super powers like Superman or the Fantastic Four (at least that’s one claim I have yet to hear). It’s more like eating them will bestow health benefits beyond that of the other, mere mortal, foods within the Five Food Groups. Well if that’s the case, then I nominate broccoli as a candidate for “superfood of them all!”

Broccoli is rich in traditional nutrients such as fiber, folate, potassium, selenium, calcium, and vitamin C. Non-traditional, disease-fighting nutrients also found in this super-vegetable include phenolics, carotenoids and organosulfurs (especially sulphoraphane). So it is no wonder research studies have indicated that broccoli has many health benefits. Some of these include: lower risk of cancer of the bladder, colorectum, breast, kidney, esophagus, oral cavity/pharynx, and prostate; lower risk of heart disease, and Crohn’s disease.

Broccoli can be eaten in so many ways. And, if you have trouble getting your kids to eat their veggies, do what I did when my daughter was young:

  • Chop up broccoli florets (and other veggies) and put them in omelets.
  • Forget spaghetti and meat balls – spaghetti and broccoli anyone? Mix the florets in spaghetti sauce; they have the size and shape of meatballs and you can’t hardy taste them over the sauce.
  • Use your artistic talents and serve a beautiful landscape. (I am far from being a Monet, but still pulled it off.) Make broccoli florets look like trees on a plate with a round carrot slice representing the sun, cauliflower florets as clouds, and then complete the picture with other colorful fruits and veggies. Kids like fun ways to do things, and this includes eating. Also, by using raw broccoli florets you are serving it in the healthiest way. Raw or lightly steamed broccoli is the best form because heat can diminish the benefit of sulphoraphane, the best known of its disease-preventing nutrients.

Finally, broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable. Legend has it that crucifers are thus named because their florets (think cauliflower also) appear similar to a crucifix. Wow! Could broccoli provide nutrition for the spirit as well as the body? That would definitely make it the “superfood of all superfoods!”

Yes, we finally have a President that has not only confessed to liking broccoli but announced that it is his favorite food. Maybe broccoli for Vice President?

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