7 Health Benefits Of Eating Broccoli During Pregnancy

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Consuming broccoli in pregnancy seems one of the healthiest choices. This cruciferous vegetable from the Brassica family can provide you with several nutrients, fiber, and phytochemicals that possess antioxidant properties. But while this superfood can offer you several long-term benefits, is it safe to consume broccoli when pregnant?

Keep reading to learn more about broccoli’s safety for expectant mothers, its possible health benefits, and effective ways to include it in your pregnancy diet.

In This Article

Is It Safe To Eat Broccoli During Pregnancy?

It is safe to eat broccoli in moderate amounts during pregnancy (1). Broccoli is rich in vitamins A, C, K, B6, calcium, folateiWater-soluble vitamin B9 naturally found in foods. , fiber, and antioxidant agents. Including this nutrient-rich food in your diet ensures good hemoglobin supply, strengthens bones, prevents skin ailments, birth defectsiMedical conditions present at or before birth affecting one or many parts of the body. , and boosts nutrient intake.

How Much Broccoli Can You Eat?

You can have about three to five servings of broccoli every day, where one serving equals half a cup of cooked or cut vegetable (2).

Benefits Of Broccoli During Pregnancy

Nutrients in broccoli can benefit pregnancy

Image: Shutterstock

Here are the main health benefits of broccoli during pregnancy:

1. Helps prevent constipation

Constipation is a common concern among pregnant women. The hormonal changes, metabolic changes, and iron supplements play a role in altering the bowel movementsiMovement of feces through the bowel (intestines) and out of the anus. . Broccoli contains both soluble and insoluble fiber that helps retain water and regulates bowel movements therefore, helping prevent constipation (3).

2. May control anemia

Your iron requirements increase during pregnancy, and a deficiency could cause anemia. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the prevalence of anemia in pregnant women was estimated to be 36.5%, globally for the year 2019. Broccoli, an iron-rich food, can be a good source of iron and folic acid (4) and reduce the risks of pregnancy-induced anemia.

3. Regulates sugar levels

Gestational diabetes occurs if your body cannot produce enough insulin to break down the sugars you consume during pregnancy. Broccoli may help in regulating the sugar levels in your body (5).

4. Improves immunity

A strong immune system during pregnancy helps avoid infections. The beta-carotene and selenium components in broccoli support your immunity (6).

5. Strengthens bones

Broccoli contains calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc that are required for healthy bones (7).

6. Protects skin

Broccoli contains vitamins A, E, B and K. Therefore, including it in your pregnancy diet can keep your skin healthy (8).

7. Supports eye health

Beta-carotene helps maintain vision. Beta-caroteneiAn organic compound that gives red-orange color to vegetables.  along vitamin A is good for eye health and keeps eye ailments away (9).

8. Helps in holding off allergies

Broccoli and some other members of the cruciferous family may be beneficial in clearing out blocked sinuses and combating allergies common in the fall season (10).

9. Helps in reducing the risk of cancer

Anti-oxidant-rich broccoli contains certain compounds such as DIM, indole-3-carbinol, and sulforaphane that may protect against cell damage, act as anticancer agents, and might support the body’s process of destroying cancer cells (11).

You can benefit from eating broccoli if you choose the right type of the vegetable.

How To Select Broccoli?

Pick fresh dark green broccolis in pregnancy

Image: Shutterstock

Here are some tips for selecting fresh broccoli.

  • Go for fresh, compact, and bright dark-green or purple-green broccoli heads.
  • Select firm stems and stalks, and not hollow ones.
  • Avoid yellow colored heads as they are over-matured varieties.
  • Avoid wilted or dried floretsiOne of the small flowers that make up the head of a cauliflower or broccoli. .

A Word Of Caution

Broccoli contains various powerful compounds that can adversely affect the skin. As a result, some individuals may suffer from allergic rashes when they touch broccoli. So, it is safe to eat this cruciferous vegetable in moderation, following appropriate serving instructions during pregnancy (12).

protip_icon Point to consider
Broccoli, if taken in large quantities may interfere with thyroid function especially if a person has hypothyroidism due to iodine deficiency. However, steaming or cooking broccoli reduces this effect (17).

And in the next section, we will see how broccoli can be eaten by pregnant women.

How Can You Include Broccoli In Your Pregnancy Diet?

Use steamed broccoli as a pizza or pasta topping

Image: Shutterstock

Broccoli can be included in your diet in many ways to get the maximum benefits and promote healthy eating habits. Some of them are:

  • Combine steamed or chopped broccoli with any fresh salad. You can also add freshly chopped fruits that go with it for some extra crunch and nutrition.
  • If you are craving for something simple, you can stir-fry broccoli with other vegetables, herbs, and garlic in olive oil. Broccoli florets can be added to any soup.
  • Use steamed broccoli as a pizza or pasta topping.
  • You can make dips from broccoli and even use as spread on bread.
  • You can also simply sauté broccoli, baby corn, some green leafy vegetables, and carrots and prepare a baked dish with them.

protip_icon Did you know?
Steaming causes the lowest loss of nutrients in broccoli compared to other cooking methods such as microwaving, boiling, or stir-frying (18).

To make your broccoli diet healthier and tastier, we have included a few recipes, which are easy to make.

Easy Broccoli Recipes

A mother and blogger from Wisconsin, US, says, “During my pregnancy I was advised by many to eat broccoli as it is supposed to gift the child cancer resistant powers. I had seen it being served raw in veggie trays, with dips. I didn’t want to eat it raw, and that’s when (I tried) a simple, tasty, comforting soup. Broccoli is a winter crop. What better time to have warm soups and drive away the horrible winter blues (i)?”

Here are some delicious soups you can try with broccoli:

1. Broccoli and stilton soup

Broccoli and Stilton soup, broccoli in pregnancy

Image: IStock

You will need:

  • 1 head broccoli, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 1 onion, chopped finely
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 1 celery stick, sliced
  • 1 medium-size potato, diced
  • 1 lt homemade vegetable or chicken broth (low salt)
  • 1 knob butter
  • 140g crumbled Stilton or blue cheese

How to:

  1. Put rapeseed oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add onions and cook till they become soft.
  2. Add leek, celery, potato, and butter. Stir them together and cover it for about five minutes.
  3. Now add the stock and chopped broccoli and let it cook for five to ten minutes until the vegetables become tender.
  4. Transfer everything to a blender and liquidize to a smooth consistency.
  5. Add Stilton, stir it and top it with black pepper before serving.

Preparation time: 40min
Servings: 4

2. Broccoli cheddar soup

Broccoli cheddar soup, broccoli in pregnancy

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • ½ cup butter
  • 16 ounce frozen broccoli, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 14.5 ounce chicken broth
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 loaf processed cheese, cubed
  • 2/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 cup water

How to:

  1. Put butter in s stockpot and heat it over medium flame. Add onion and cook until soft.
  2. Add broccoli and chicken broth and cook for about 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Now reduce the heat and add cheese cubes. Let it melt after which add milk and garlic powder.
  4. Take a small bowl with corn starch and water. Mix until it dissolves and add to the soup. Stir the mixture until it turns thick in consistency.

Preparation time: 45min
Servings: 10

3. Vegetarian Broccoli feta soup

Vegetarian broccoli feta soup

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion (chopped)
  • 2 stalks celery (chopped)
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 1 large potato (peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes)
  • 4 cups vegetable stock (low-sodium)
  • 6 cups broccoli florets
  • ⅓ cup feta cheese crumbled

How to:

1. Heat olive oil in a heavy bottom pot and add in the onion and celery
2. Cook until they are soft. Stir in garlic and cook for 30 seconds
3. Add potatoes, salt, and black pepper, pour in the vegetable stock, and bring it to a boil. Continue to cook (simmer) until the potatoes are soft
4. Add the broccoli florets and cook for eight to ten minutes over medium heat
5. Blend soup in the pot with a hand blender till you have the desired texture (blend less for a chunky consistency and more for a silky one)
6. Garnish with feta crumbles and serve

Preparation time:30 min
Servings: 6

Speak to your doctor before you try these delicious and healthy broccoli recipes. Also, ensure that all the ingredients given in the recipes can be eaten by you.

There could be a few questions on your mind and in the next section we answer a few of them.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I eat raw broccoli during pregnancy?

You may eat raw broccoli if it is washed properly. Broccoli is a storehouse of essential nutrients that are important for you and your unborn baby (13).

2. Can I eat broccoli sprouts during pregnancy?

Research reveals that broccoli sprouts not only improve the mother’s health but also show an improvement in the baby’s health as they grow up. They are known to offer life-long protection to babies against cardiovascular diseases (14). Broccoli sprouts also boost the body’s natural defense from oxidative stress that may cause hypertension and inflammation.

3. Can I eat broccoli rabe during pregnancy?

Broccoli rabe is safe to consume during pregnancy. You should just make sure it is properly washed before eating. It is an excellent source of proteins, and vitamins B, C, and K.

4. Does broccoli cause gas during pregnancy?

Certain foods such as broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts may produce gas in some people. Therefore, if you face discomfort after eating broccoli, it is best to monitor your diet and avoid or reduce them. According to the American Pregnancy Association, drinking more water and engaging in light physical exercises also help reduce gas during pregnancy (15).

5. What does it mean if I crave broccoli when pregnant?

Researchers do not know for sure why cravings develop during pregnancy. However, some say it might indicate a nutritional deficiency. Therefore, if you are craving broccoli, it may mean that you lack some of the nutrients in the vegetable. However, other researchers also suggest that cravings may develop due to hormonal changes. Nevertheless, if you are craving healthy food, it is good to include it in your diet (16).

Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable that offer several health benefits. You can include broccoli in your daily diet and keep common pregnancy complications such as constipation at the bay. However, broccoli should be eaten in moderation. You can speak to your nutritionist or gynecologist about the permissible amounts of broccoli if you have any other health conditions during pregnancy. If you notice any allergic reaction after touching or eating broccoli, stop consuming it and contact an allergist or your gynecologist.

Infographic: How To Include Broccoli In A Pregnancy Diet?

Loaded with essential vitamins and minerals, broccoli is a popular vegetable that can be included in many dishes for a healthy essence. It is also good for pregnant women when consumed in moderation. So, let’s check out the infographic below for some easy and nutritious ways to include broccoli in your pregnancy diet.

healthy ways to eat broccoli when pregnant (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Key Pointers

  • It is safe and healthy to eat broccoli in moderate amounts during pregnancy.
  • Broccoli is a good source of vitamins (A C and K), calcium, folate, and antioxidants that are essential for a healthy pregnancy.
  • Its health benefits include preventing anemia and constipation, regulating sugar levels, improving immunity, promoting bone, skin and eye health.
  • The recommended serving of broccoli in pregnant women is three to five servings per day.
broccoli in pregnancy_illustration

Image: Stable Diffusion/MomJunction Design Team

Personal Experience: Source

References

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
  1. My Healthy Pregnancy Plate Planner.
    https://www.nyc.gov/assets/doh/downloads/pdf/ms/plate-planner.pdf
  2. Nutrition for Pregnancy.
    https://sites.psu.edu/pchionutr/2015/10/13/teen-pregnancy/
  3. MATERNAL HEALTH AND NUTRITION.
    https://health.mo.gov/living/families/wic/pdf/3-0MaternalNutrition.pdf
  4. Health Tips for Pregnant Women.
    https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/weight-management/healthy-eating-physical-activity-for-life/health-tips-for-pregnant-women?dkrd=/health-information/weight-management/health-tips-pregnant-women
  5. Gestational diabetes diet.
    https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/007430.htm
  6. 5 Nutrients we need in our body every day.
    https://www.eugene-or.gov/DocumentCenter/View/14233/5-Nutrients-we-need-daily?bidId=
  7. Strong Bones for You and Your Baby.
    https://www.health.ny.gov/publications/1992/index.htm
  8. Broccoli raw.
    https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/747447/nutrients
  9. El-Sayed M. Abdel-Aal et al.; (2013); Dietary Sources of Lutein and Zeaxanthin Carotenoids and Their Role in Eye Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3705341/
  10. Combating Fall Allergies.
    https://www.matherhospital.org/wellness-at-mather/diet-nutrition/combating-fall-allergies/
  11.  5 Health Benefits of Broccoli.
    https://health.clevelandclinic.org/broccoli-benefits
  12. Yuri Sugita et al.; (2016); Mugwort-Mustard Allergy Syndrome due to Broccoli Consumption.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4961803/
  13. Pregnancy and diet.
    https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/pregnancy-and-diet
  14. Bernhard HJ Juurlink et al.; (2014); Hydroxybenzoic acid isomers and the cardiovascular system.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4074389/
  15. Pregnancy gas.
    https://americanpregnancy.org/healthy-pregnancy/pregnancy-health-wellness/gas-during-pregnancy/
  16. Food cravings during pregnancy.
    https://www.pregnancybirthbaby.org.au/food-cravings-during-pregnancy
  17. Hypothyroidism.
    https://www.va.gov/WHOLEHEALTHLIBRARY/tools/hypothyroidism.asp
  18. Gao-feng Yuan et al.; Effects of different cooking methods on health-promoting compounds of broccoli.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2722699
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Claudia Wilson
Claudia WilsonMS, RDN, CSSD, CSCS
Claudia Wilson is a registered dietitian/ nutritionist, a Board Certified Specialist in Sports Nutrition (CSSD), and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). With an experience of 12 years, she currently manages her private practice All of Nutrition and authored One-Two Punch.

Read full bio of Claudia Wilson
Swati Patwal
Swati PatwalM.Sc. (Food & Nutrition), MBA
Swati Patwal is a clinical nutritionist, a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) and a toddler mom with more than a decade of experience in diverse fields of nutrition. She started her career as a CSR project coordinator for a healthy eating and active lifestyle project catering to school children.

Read full bio of Swati Patwal
Rebecca is a pregnancy writer and editor with a passion for delivering research-based and engaging content in areas of fertility, pregnancy, birth, and post-pregnancy. She did her graduation in Biotechnology and Genetics from Loyola Academy, Osmania University and obtained a certification in ‘Nutrition and Lifestyle in Pregnancy’ from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU).

Read full bio of Rebecca Malachi
Aneesha holds a Bachelor's degree in Biotechnology from USTM, Meghalaya and Master’s degree in Applied Microbiology from VIT, Vellore. With two years of experience, she has worked on different research projects in the field of Food Sciences.

Read full bio of Aneesha Amonz