Brassica oleracea, Italica Group
Broccoli is group of green, cruciferous plants with edible, immature flowering heads (inflorescences) eaten as a vegetable.
Broccoli is a cultivated variety of Brassica oleracea, and is usually placed in the Italica group. (see the grouping at the end of the page)
The name ‘broccoli” comes from the latin word brachium, which means “branch” or “arm” which describes a vegetable with numerous, thick, fleshy stalks, supporting a head of compact flowers.
There are two types of broccoli
- Calabrese Broccoli.
- Sprouting Broccoli.
Broccoli (and cauliflower) probably evolved in the Roman times from wild or primitive cultivated forms of Brassica oleracea from the eastern Mediterranean region. Broccoli reached N. America later in the 18th century, but only became popular in the 20th century. It was first cultivated in the United States in the 1920s. From the United States it has spread throughout the world in the last 50 years. 90% of American crop comes from California. Broccoli is available all year round, but is most abundant in October-May (North America).
- Broccoli is one of the healthiest foods you can eat. It has a rich supply of vitamins and minerals, and contains phytochemicals such as glucosinolates and phenolic compounds. Studies indicate these phytochemicals are effective in protecting against certain forms of cancer. (PROTA-Broccoli)
- Broccoli has the highest level of carotenoids in the cabbage family and is particularly rich in lutein.
- It also contains special enzymes, good amounts of beta carotene and vitamin c, which all help fight cancer.
- Raw Broccoli is high in vitamin C and dietary fibre.
- 100g (3.5oz) serving of raw broccoli: will give the RDA of 140% for vitamin C, 97% for vitamin K, and only 34 cal.
Quick Tips for cooking Broccoli
- Broccoli is often boiled, steamed, sautéed, braised, blanched or eaten raw. However, the boiling of broccoli reduces anticancer properties.
- Other preparation methods like steaming, microwaving and stir-frying have less significant effect on the compounds.
Quick Tips for Serving Broccoli
- As mentioned above, 100g (3.5oz) of raw broccoli has only 34 calories. We basically eat vegetables to take a break from calorie full foods so if you can, avoid topping the broccoli with cream sauce, sour cream or hard cheeses like Cheddar.
- Instead, add a squeeze of lemon juice, sprinkling of Almonds, sesame seeds, chopped hard boiled egg white, toasted breadcrumbs, or a decent sprinkling of Parmesan.
Grouping of Brassica oleracea cultivars
Cultivars of Brassica oleracea are usually grouped by developmental form into seven major cultivar groups.
- Brassica oleracea, Acephala Group-includes leafy greens like kale, collard greens, Marrow Stem Kale, Palm Tree Kale, Portuguese Kale, Thousand Headed Kale. These cultivars look more like the wild cabbage in appearance.
- Brassica oleracea, Alboglabra Group: includes one variety, Chinese broccoli (kai-lan or Chinese Kale)
- Brassica oleracea Botrytis Group-Cauliflower, Romanesco broccoli, broccoflower
- Brassica oleracea Capitata group: cabbage
- Brassica oleracea Gemmifera Group: Brussels sprouts
- Brassica oleracea Gongylodes Group– Kohlrabi (German turnip or turnip cabbage)
- Brassica oleracea Italica Group-broccoli