Broccoli is a low-carb, nutrient-rich vegetable that can be used in a variety of dishes. It readily absorbs the flavors of the sauces and spices it’s cooked with, and adds a satisfying texture when you’re looking for a little more bulk from your veggies.
In addition, broccoli comes packed with some unique and potent health benefits.
Broccoli contains a handful of compounds that provide unique health benefits.
Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower are a fantastic source of the antioxidant compound sulforaphane.
Sulforaphane gets activated when its precursor glucoraphanin comes into contact with specific enzymes. These enzymes are defense activated, and therefore only released when broccoli is chopped, cut, or chewed.
Just a handful of benefits that sulforaphane can boast include[*]:
Broccoli is also a great source of the compounds lutein and zeaxanthin, which are known for their positive effects on eye health. These two antioxidants have an affinity for the retina of your eye where they combat radiation from blue light (like the light being emitted from your phone or computer that you’re reading this on).
Lutein and zeaxanthin have been studied for their eye-protective activity, and may even provide prevention for age-related eye diseases like cataracts and macular degeneration[*].
Here’s the macronutrient breakdown of one cup of broccoli florets[*]:
- Calories: 24 kcal
- Fat: 0.26 grams
- Carbohydrates: 4.71 grams
- Fiber: 1.85 grams
- Protein: 2 grams
In addition, that same cup of broccoli florets is rich in vitamins and minerals. For example, one cup of florets includes:
- 63.3 mg of Vitamin C — 97% daily value
- 72.1 ug of Vitamin K — 58% daily value
- 44.7 ug of Folate — 11% daily value
- 224 mg of Potassium –6% daily value
Some foods are considered “carbs,” when in reality, most foods are made up of some percentage of all three macronutrients. About 78% of broccoli’s macronutrient makeup is a carbohydrate, with the remainder primarily coming from protein and a scant amount of fat.
So would broccoli be considered a carb? Yes. But there is more to the story than simply looking at macros when it comes to foods being keto-friendly.
For instance, when looking at broccoli from a macronutrient perspective, you also have to take into account how it’s prepared and what the net carb value is.
While one cup of broccoli contains 4.71 carbs, when you take into account the fiber, it ends up being just 2.86 grams of carbs. Furthermore, when you cook some vegetables, like broccoli, the carb count decreases even further[*].
So even if you were to consume two heaping cups of broccoli, your carb count would end up close to five net grams — certainly within the realm of a keto-friendly ratio.
While many people look solely at macronutrient ratio to determine whether or not a food is keto-friendly, the true test is whether or not that food allows you to stay in ketosis.
Even though broccoli is by macronutrient standards pretty carb-forward (as are most vegetables except avocados), this food is low enough in total calories and rich enough in fiber to be considered keto. Furthermore, it’s a rich source of nutrients and health-supportive compounds, making it an excellent addition to your diet.
Are there ways to prepare broccoli that make it even more keto-friendly? Certainly. In fact, other ingredients like fats can further improve health benefits by aiding in the absorption of fat-soluble compounds like vitamin A and the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin[*].
Some sugar-free, gluten-free, low-carb recipes that include broccoli:
#1 Broccoli Casserole
Put that casserole dish to good use. Casseroles are one of the easiest, yet most flavorful dishes you can prepare. This rich, cheesy, broccoli chicken casserole contains only two carbs per serving and provides an excellent balance of fat and protein.
#2 Broccoli Cheddar Soup
If you want rich and creamy, this broccoli cheese soup is your answer. You can pair it with some keto-friendly bread, or have it on the side of your main dish. You can even throw a little protein right into the mix.
Top it with some sprinkles of cheddar cheese, and no need to go light on that heavy cream.
#3 Broccoli Meatza
Getting your veggies in should never be a boring affair. This broccoli meatza is packed with flavor and comes in at only seven net carbs per serving.
#4 Keto Broccoli Salad
Most people associate salad with lettuce, but you can use broccoli as your base to make a heartier salad with even more crunch. Of course, you’ll want to add in some fun keto-friendly ingredients to your keto broccoli salad to round it out like bacon, nuts, and cheese.
#5 Creamy Broccoli with Bacon
If you’re looking for a substantial low-carb side dish this creamy broccoli with bacon
dish makes an excellent side, or could even be used as your main dish.
Broccoli is not only an incredibly nutrient-dense food, but it also fits perfectly into a keto diet. Even though its macronutrient ratio is carb-heavy, its low caloric value means that you would have to consume quite a bit before it would be able to kick you out of ketosis.
Enjoy your broccoli with healthy fats and protein for a balanced meal, and check out some of the broccoli recipes offered above.