Broccoli

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Broccoli (from the Italian plural of broccolo, referring to "the flowering top of a cabbage")[3] is a plant of the Kale family Brassicaceae (formerly Cruciferae). It is classified in the Italica cultivar group of the species Brassica oleracea. Broccoli has large flower heads, usually green in color, arranged in a tree-like fashion on branches sprouting from a thick, edible stalk. The mass of flower heads is surrounded by leaves. Many varieties of broccoli are perennial. Broccoli most closely resembles cauliflower, which is a different cultivar group of the same species.

Contents

History

Broccoli evolved from a wild cabbage plant on the continent of Europe. Indications point to the vegetable's being known 2,000 years ago.[4] Since the Roman Empire, broccoli has been considered a uniquely valuable food among Italians.[5] Broccoli was grown at Antwerp whence it was taken to England by the sculptor Peter Scheemakers, according to a biographical note by J. T. Smith.[6] Broccoli was first introduced to the United States by Italian immigrants but did not become widely known until the 1920s.[4]

Culinary

Broccoli is usually boiled or steamed, but may be eaten raw and has become popular as a raw vegetable in hors d'œuvre trays. Boiling reduces the levels of suspected anti-cancer compounds in broccoli, with losses of 20 - 30% after five minutes, 40 - 50% after ten minutes, and 77% after thirty minutes.[7] However, other preparation methods such as steaming, microwaving, and stir frying had no significant effect on the compounds.[7] Steaming broccoli for 3-4 minutes is recommended to maximize the anti-cancer compound, sulforaphane.[8]

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