Often mistaken for young broccoli, broccolini is actually a "hybrid" combination of broccoli and "Kai-Lan", a Chinese varietal. Its tender long stalks and florets have a delicious flavour – sweeter than standard broccoli with hints of asparagus.
As a member of the Brassica family of plants, broccolini contains many of the same phytochemicals and nutrients as other cruciferous vegetables – in addition to broccoli, relatives include cauliflower, cabbage, brussel sprouts, kale, kohlrabi, rapini & bok choy.
Broccolini and other cruciferous vegetables are notably rich in phytochemicals called isothiocyanates and glucosinolates – both known to be powerful anti-cancer compounds. These compounds have an important role in the detoxification process – acting as potent anti-oxidants to help our liver to excrete toxins from the body before they are able to cause cellular damage. These phytochemicals have been researched for both the prevention and possible treatment of lung, breast & gastro-intestinal cancers – a convincing reason to eat these veggies regularly!
In addition to its cancer-fighting properties, broccolini is also a great source of fibre, Vitamin C, vitamin A, folic acid, and minerals such calcium & potassium. The regular consumption of cruciferous vegetables, including broccolini, can provide you with a good amount of your daily mineral requirements; important in maintaining the health of your bones, cardiovascular system and muscles.
From a Chinese medicine perspective, broccolini and other cruciferous vegetables are nourishing to the liver and the sweet yet pungent flavour helps to clear "stagnation" of this organ, which can manifest as emotional irritability, indigestion & bloating, PMS & headaches.
Broccolini is a great spring-time food, helping to gently cleanse and renew the body! Try it lightly sauteed or steamed with seasonings like lemon, garlic & tamari or soy sauce. It's delicious and packs a serious nutritional punch!
By: Bronwyn Hill, Naturopathic Doctor, bhillND@gmail.com