When you think about broccoli, you might think about the adorable-looking vegetable that closely resembles a teeny tree.
Many are used to having their broccoli florets roasted, boiled, steamed, or even sauteed, but not many consider broccoli leaves as a meal.
In addition, broccoli leaves contain lutein, a nutrient that has been shown to protect against age-related macular degeneration.
Broccoli leaves are edible and can be eaten in different forms.
You can enjoy them raw, and use them in your salads, sandwiches, and even soups.
Whatever your pick is, you’ll find broccoli leaves as enjoyable as their thicker counterparts and just as nutritiously delectable.
Is It Safe To Eat Raw Broccoli Leaves?
However, if you’re going to eat them raw, you’ll want to be sure that they’re tender enough to be digested.
Smaller broccoli leaves are more tender than the larger and more developed leaves.
It is also important to know that while you may enjoy consuming your broccoli leaves raw, cooking them makes them a whole lot sweeter.
This is because the process of cooking breaks down the plant’s cell walls, releasing more of the sugar molecules that are already present in the broccoli.
In addition, cooking broccoli also triggers the release of enzymes that help to further break down these sugars.
As a result, cooked broccoli can taste up to 10 times sweeter than raw broccoli.
Interestingly, how you harvest your broccoli may also have an effect on them if you’re looking to consume them raw.
The best time to harvest your leaves is in the morning or evening.
This is to allow the cut area to heal as soon as possible and not harm the entire plant.
To also help the plant recover in the shortest time possible, only about ⅓ of the leaves should be harvested at any given time.
Medium-sized leaves are the perfect size and thickness to fill with veggies and meat, à la cabbage rolls.
You can also wrap them around a chicken salad or tuna salad instead of using tortillas or pitas.
To harvest, check for when the central head of the broccoli is tightly tucked in the bud.
This is the time that the leaves are easier to harvest and contain more flavor.
Use a knife to cut the leaves or pluck them straight out.
The smaller broccoli leaves usually form at the base of the buds and are usually more visible when the central crown has been cut off.
The older leaves, on the other hand, are largely visible and can be harvested easily once they are about 4 to 6 inches long.
Remember, the smaller the leaf, the more tender it will be, so be sure to target the newly formed leaves.
Interestingly, you can continue to harvest broccoli throughout the growing season as broccoli produces leaves that will remain tender even when the growing season has ended.
Are Broccoli Leaves Poisonous?
Most people are familiar with broccoli, a crunchy and nutritious vegetable that is often used in salads and stir-fries.
However, what many people don’t know is that the leaves of the broccoli plant are also edible – and they’re actually quite good for you!
Broccoli leaves are a good source of fiber, vitamins A and C, and calcium.
They can be enjoyed cooked or raw, and make a great addition to any meal.
Broccoli leaves are healthy and can help in detoxification as well as help reduce inflammation.
They also play a major role in aiding skin health and in fighting macular degeneration and cataracts.
While the stalk of broccoli contains the most fiber, broccoli leaves are also rich in fiber.
They are known to help manage different health conditions such as helping lower blood sugar for people with diabetes.
It can also help to slow down the progression of osteoarthritis by keeping the cartilage healthy, and even having components that help prevent the formation of cancerous cells.
While broccoli leaves are healthy to consume, you may want to avoid them if you currently are using any blood thinners as the Vitamin K they contain promotes blood clotting.
If your kidneys are not in the best shape, you may also need to avoid them as they increase the buildup of phosphorus in your bloodstream.
Are There Nutrients In Broccoli Leaves?
Broccoli leaves are rich in:
- Vitamin C
- Great for the repair of body tissues, proper function of the immune system and aids the absorption of iron.
- Vitamin K
- helps with the clotting of blood and the proper building of bones.
- Also called Vitamin b1. It’s important for nerve, muscle, and heart function.
- works great for healthy bones and teeth and helps with blood clotting
- Needed for proper growth and development. Plays a role in the transfer of oxygen in the body.
- important in the growth, maintenance, and repair of cells and tissues.
- Moves nutrients into cells and waste products out of cells.
- Aids the proper functioning of the immune system. Also helps with wound healing.
- Great for skin and better brain function.
- This B vitamin is essential for proper digestive function and healthy skin.
- Needed for healthy cell growth and red blood cell formation. Also reduces the risk of birth defects in the brain and spine.
- Vitamins A
- Great for vision, the immune system, and for proper development of a fetus.
- Vitamin B6
- Helps with the development of the brain, nerves, and skin.
- Vitamin B12
- Helps keep your blood and nerve cells healthy.
- Vitamin D
- Keeps your bones, teeth, and muscles healthy.
- Vitamin E
- Works great for vision, reproduction, and healthy blood, brain, and skin.
- Vitamin K
- Helps build bones and aids blood clotting.
Many people think of broccoli as nothing more than a nutrient-packed green vegetable, but the truth is that broccoli is actually a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes.
They can be sauteed, stir-fried, or even used in soup.
If you’re looking for a new way to add some nutrition to your diet, why not give broccoli leaves a try?
You might be surprised at how delicious they can be.
I’m Chris Watson & the Founder of EatForLonger.com. I’m a food and wellbeing enthusiast researching and sharing foodstuffs and simple food-based concepts, such as fasting and clean eating.
I hope it inspires you to make tiny changes to what you eat and when you eat while optimizing your healthspan and all-around well-being.
Read more About Me here.