No, eating broccoli raw is not bad for you. Whilst there is some speculation regarding raw consumption, there seems to be greater evidence to suggest that it will do a lot more good than harm.
If ever there was an argument for always eating your greens, then broccoli is it. In both cooked and raw forms of broccoli, there is a vast array of nutritional and health benefits to be had. While eating broccoli raw is not as common as eating the cooked variety, correctly prepared it can be delicious.
As with many cooked fruits and vegetables, broccoli will lose some of its nutritional value when exposed to high heat. However, broccoli is a relatively robust vegetable and the nutrients lost are not as high as other veggies.
Broccoli is excellent for digestion as it is incredibly high in fiber, which also lowers the risk of illnesses like heart disease and diabetes. A 100-gram portion contains ten percent of the body’s recommended daily intake. Additionally, broccoli is rich in Vitamin A and C that help to boost your immune system and lower the risk of you catching colds and flu.
Where broccoli really shines through is the number of phytochemicals and antioxidants it contains. Phytochemicals are what gives food - broccoli included - its color, flavor, and smell. The American Institute for Cancer Research reports that when consumed, these phytochemicals prevent food from becoming carcinogens and slow down the growth of cancer cells. The job of antioxidants is to help avoid cell damage caused by free radical molecules which have been known to cause illnesses such as cancer, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.
Broccoli is hugely beneficial to many parts of the body. The high quantity of lutein in broccoli is very good for eye health (similar to carrots), and the sulforaphane in broccoli serves as an anti-inflammatory agent that decreases the speed of joint damage in those who suffer from osteoarthritis.
So far we have only looked at the benefits; given the multitude of positive reasons for eating raw broccoli, could there possibly be anything to suggest that broccoli is bad for you?
There is some evidence that indicates many cruciferous vegetables, like sprouts, cauliflower, and broccoli, contain goitrogenic substances that suppress the thyroid gland resulting in what is known as hyperthyroidism. Symptoms include thinning hair, depression, abdominal bloating, cold hands and fatigue to name just a few. The University of Maryland Medical Center suggests avoiding raw broccoli if you have thyroid problems, but it can be consumed in moderation.
Raw broccoli should also be avoided if you are taking blood-thinning medication. Broccoli is rich in vitamin K, and this can render any medication you might be taking ineffective.
Finally, because of the high fiber content, it is advised that people with irritable bowels avoid eating raw broccoli. Sufferers of irritable bowel syndrome and similar illnesses risk a greater chance of gas, bloating and diarrhea.
So, to wrap things up:
Raw broccoli does come with its perks and can be eaten as a regular part of your diet. Although there are risks, these risks mainly seem to affect people already suffering from certain conditions. If you are in any doubt, then cook your broccoli in such a way that it will retain the majority of its natural goodness.
Possible short-term side effects
Possible long-term side effects
Ingredients to be aware of
- vitamin k
- goitrogenic substances
- no nutrients are lost