Broccoli Rabe: Nutrition, Recipes and More

Broccoli rabe — also known as broccoli rapini or raab, broccoletti, spring raab, and ruvo kohl — is a leafy green vegetable that belongs to the broccoli family cabbage genus, along with broccoli, cabbage, turnips, arugula, and kale, among others (1, 2).

cabbage Vegetables are also known as cruciferous vegetables. These nutritional powerhouses have numerous health benefits — they have cancer-fighting properties and may reduce the risk of chronic disease (1, 2).

Aside from its potential health benefits, broccoli rabe shares many similarities with other cruciferous vegetables. For example, it has a nutty and slightly bitter taste, similar to broccoli. It also has long, broccoli-like flowers surrounded by kale-like leaves.

This article examines broccoli, including its nutrients, benefits and potential downsides, and how to prepare it.

Like other cruciferous vegetables, broccoli is packed with nutrients.

A 1-cup (170-gram) serving of cooked broccoli raven provides (3):

  • Calories: 42
  • Carbohydrates: 5 grams
  • Fiber: 4.8 grams
  • Protein: 7 grams
  • Fat: 1 gram
  • Vitamin C: 70% of Daily Value (DV)
  • folate: 30% of the DV
  • Vitamin A: 43% of the DV
  • Iron: 12% of the DV
  • Calcium: 15% of the DV
  • Zinc: 8% of the DV

Broccoli Rabe is a rich source of vitamins A, C and folic acid. These have many uses in the body, including vision health, immune system support, and prevention of birth defects (4, 5, 6).

It’s also a good source of magnesium, which is needed for energy production, and contains a good amount of potassium, which helps regulate blood pressure (7, 8th).

In addition, it is low in calories but contains a high amount of fiber and vegetable protein.

Broccoli Rabe is particularly high in sulfur-containing compounds called glucosinolates, just like other cruciferous vegetables.

Glucosinolates are arguably the most important compounds in Broccoli Rabe. They are responsible for the vegetable’s distinctive flavor and are behind most of its health benefits (9).


Broccoli is a nutrient-dense vegetable rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber and plant-based protein. But most importantly, it’s a rich source of glucosinolates, the plant compounds behind most of its health benefits.

Thanks to the glucosinolate content of broccoli rabe, eating the vegetable may reduce the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease, in addition to a host of health benefits.

Rich in antioxidants with anti-cancer properties

Antioxidants are compounds that help fight oxidative stress, high levels of which can lead to the progression of various diseases, including cancer. Broccoli Rabe contains many antioxidants with strong anti-cancer properties (10).

One of the most well-studied types of antioxidants found in broccoli are glucosinolates, which have powerful cancer-fighting properties. For example, they may help keep oxidative stress low, inhibit cancer cell growth, and promote cancer cell death (1, 9, 11).

In addition, glucosinolates break down in the body into secondary metabolites such as isothiocyanate and sulforaphane, which also have antioxidant and antitumor activities that prevent the spread of cancer cells (1, 9, 11).

In addition, broccoli is also rich in other antioxidant compounds that help fight off cancer cells, including flavonoids, phenols, carotenoids, tocopherols, and ascorbic acid — or vitamin C (1, 11, 12).

In fact, research suggests that higher intakes of cruciferous vegetables like broccoli could reduce the risk of colon cancer by about 8% and the risk of stomach cancer by about 19%. These types of cancer are among the leading causes of death from cancer worldwide (12).

May improve heart health

Oxidative stress also plays a crucial role in the development of heart disease, including high blood pressure and atherosclerosis – the narrowing of veins due to plaque buildup (13).

However, broccoli may help reduce the risk of heart disease again due to its antioxidant content (14).

Research shows that glucosinolates can improve heart health by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress in your artery walls, improving blood flow, and preventing plaque build-up (13, 14, fifteen).

As a leafy green vegetable, broccoli is also rich in dietary nitrates, which have also been linked to a reduced risk of hypertension and atherosclerosis (16, 17).

May help with blood sugar control

Both fiber and antioxidants in broccoli can help control your blood sugar levels.

High-fiber foods can slow the transit time of food through your gastrointestinal tract, which in turn delays glucose absorption and prevents your blood sugar from spiking (18, 19).

Meanwhile, broccoli rabe’s antioxidants, such as polyphenols, may improve glucose uptake by muscle cells, resulting in improved blood sugar levels (1).

Additionally, animal studies show that flavonoids can also normalize blood sugar levels, while isothiocyanates can prevent or reduce blood sugar-related complications (1, fifteen).

In general, higher cruciferous vegetable intake has been associated with a significantly reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes (fifteen, 20).

Possible anti-obesity effects

The bacteria in your gut — or gut microbiota — can directly affect obesity because of their role in absorbing, storing, and burning energy from food (21).

With a higher ratio of Firmicutes bacteria too Bacteroidetes Bacteria are more common in people who are obese. In contrast, leaner people tend to have higher scores Bacteroidetes as Firmicutes (21, 22, 23).

There is evidence that cruciferous vegetable intake may increase Bacteroidetes and reduce Firmicutes levels in humans (11, 23).

Studies in mice have suggested that these changes are associated with increased activity of the enzyme myrosinase. This is responsible for converting glucosinolates to their secondary metabolites, including sulforaphane (11).


Thanks to its antioxidant and fiber content, broccoli may benefit heart health, reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, and even have cancer-fighting and anti-obesity properties.

The disadvantages of Broccoli Rabe are minimal.

The most important is the potential of broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables to cause goiter. A goiter is an enlarged thyroid gland that can result from iodine deficiency.

However, this is very unlikely unless you consume broccoli in extreme amounts.

In these rare cases, it can be caused by goitrin, the breakdown product of progoitrin, which is one of several types of glucosinolates found in cruciferous vegetables.

Goitrin inhibits iodine consumption in the thyroid, thereby increasing the risk of goiter and hypothyroidism (24, 25, 26).

However, levels of this compound are far too low to be risky when consuming broccoli as part of a balanced diet.

Studies indicate that thyroid iodine uptake is inhibited by 194 μmol goitrin. However, broccoli rabe contains less than 10 μmol of goitrin per 100-gram serving. Thus, it carries a minimal risk (25).

Additionally, cooking methods such as steaming, frying, and boiling can reduce goiter-causing compounds in cruciferous vegetables by about 20% or more, depending on the method (1, 9, 11, 24).


Like most cruciferous vegetables, broccoli can interfere with the production of thyroid hormones if you eat it in very large amounts. However, with a balanced diet, the risk is minimal.

Broccoli and Broccoli Rabe are very similar nutritionally.

Both provide virtually the same amount of protein and fiber per serving, although broccoli contains twice the carbohydrates of broccoli, with 11 grams of carbohydrates per 1 cup (160 grams) of broccoli (27).

However, since they are cruciferous vegetables high in glucosinolates, they both share the health benefits and potential downsides mentioned above. They also have similar tastes. So if you already like broccoli, chances are you’ll also like Broccoli Rabe.

Their main difference lies mainly in their appearance. Broccoli has smaller flowers, while broccoli has a large head full of thick, tree-like flowers. Broccoli Rabe also has larger leaves and a longer stem that is edible.

Unlike broccoli, which can be eaten both raw and cooked, broccoli is mostly eaten cooked.


Broccoli and Broccoli Rabe are two very similar cruciferous vegetables that have many advantages and disadvantages. Their main differences lie in their appearance.

Broccoli Rabe is a common ingredient in Italian and Asian cuisines, where it’s typically mixed with pasta or stir-fried.

Here are some cooking ideas.

One of the easiest ways to incorporate broccoli into your diet is to fry it and serve it as a side dish that you can pair with chicken or fish.

To roast broccoli, try olive and sesame oil, salt, orange zest, and red pepper flakes and toss on a baking sheet. Roast at 218°C (425°F) for 10 minutes or until stems appear light green and leaves and flowers are crisp.

Broccoli Rabe is also a great addition to sauces and salads, or you can bake them into chips like you would prepare kale chips.

If you’re short on time, you can quickly blanch it by placing it in a saucepan of boiling water with a pinch of salt, simmering for 1-2 minutes, then straining. This way you reduce some of the bitterness.


Broccoli Rabe is a versatile ingredient. Roasting or a quick blanching is recommended over eating raw to reduce natural bitterness. It can be served as a side dish with vegetables, baked into chips, or added to sauces or pasta.

Broccoli Rabe is another cruciferous vegetable from the cabbage Genus of plants very similar to broccoli.

In fact, both have very similar nutritional profiles and offer the same potential health benefits, including anti-cancer properties, improved heart health, and weight and blood sugar control.

Interestingly, they also share their main disadvantage, which is the potential to interfere with thyroid hormones. However, the risk of this is minimal.

Broccoli Rabe is easy to prepare and can make a tasty and nutritious addition to your diet.

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