From a nutrition standpoint, are broccoli florets and broccoli rabe the same?
— Chris Tozer
(City withheld), TX
Ah, broccoli rabe. One of my favorite vegetables. Sauteed in olive oil and garlic, topped with a few crushed red pepper flakes and a generous squirt of lemon juice… it’s unbridled culinary beauty.
Now that I’ve wiped off the drool from my keyboard, let’s talk nutrition.
Broccoli rabe offers three times the vitamin A and calcium, double the vitamin K, and half the vitamin C that broccoli florets do. It’s also an excellent source of potassium and folate.
While not super high in calcium or iron, the absence of oxalates (which are prominent in spinach) in broccoli rabe indicate that we are able to efficiently absorb the decent amounts of both those minerals that it contains.
Its slightly bitter taste hints at more good news — it is loaded with unique antioxidants and phytonutrients! For example, it offers high amounts of isothiocyanates, compounds that fiercely battle carcinogens in the body. High isothiocyanate consumption has been shown to significantly reduce risk of developing breast, esophageal, lung, and prostate cancers.
Isothiocyanates affect thyroid function, so individuals with thyroid complications should carefully monitor their intake of broccoli rabe and other leafy green vegetables.
PS: Broccoli rabe is also known as rapini. Chinese broccoli is a milder-tasting variety of broccoli rabe.