5 Health Benefits of Broccoli For Babies

health benefits of broccoli for babies

Broccoli is a common vegetable and makes for some delicious and healthy recipes. So, of course, you would want to include it in your baby’s diet. But, how do you use broccoli for babies?

This vegetable has a mild and crunchy texture; hence can be included in soups, curries, stir-fries, and stews. It is also rich in many micronutrients and phytochemicals that may help in improving the health of a baby. Also, broccoli comes in many colors, such as green, purplish-green, white, and red, making the baby’s meal colorfully exciting.

So scroll down to know when to feed a baby broccoli, its possible health benefits, and a few simple yet delicious broccoli recipes.

Broccoli Nutritional Value

Broccoli is a good source of vital micronutrients, such as vitamin K, A, B9, C, potassium, and dietary fiber. 45g of raw broccoli can offer the following nutrients to support your baby’s daily nutritional needs.

  • Water – 40.2g
  • Energy – 15.3kcal
  • Protein – 1.27g
  • Fiber, total dietary – 1.17g
  • Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid – 40.1mg 50mg
  • Vitamin B-6 – 0.079μg 0.3μg
  • Folate, DFE – 28.4μg 80μg
  • Vitamin A, RAE – 14μg 500μg
  • Vitamin K (phylloquinone) – 45.7μg 2.5μg

Health Benefits Of Broccoli For Babies

The regular consumption of broccoli as part of a balanced diet could provide the following benefits to a baby.

Promotes Gut Health

Broccoli offers considerable amounts of dietary fiber that could help maintain a healthy bowel and keep constipation at bay. Besides, it contains bioactive compounds, such as glucosinolates, that benefit the gut microbiota, promoting gut health in the long term. Maintaining gut health from an early age is vital to support proper digestion and optimum absorption of nutrients.

Supplies Vital Micronutrients

Vitamin A, E, K, B9, C, iron, calcium, selenium, magnesium, and potassium are some vital micronutrients broccoli contains in abundance. These nutrients are essential for several physiological functions, such as regulating enzymatic reactions. These physiological functions help a baby grow and stay healthy.

Aids Bone Health

45g of raw broccoli offers 21.2mg calcium, 9.45mg magnesium, 29.7mg phosphorus, and 142mg potassium. These nutrients are necessary for healthy bone development and maintenance.

Supports Skin Health

Vitamin C helps the body to produce collagen, which supports body cells, organs, and the skin.

Supports Immunity

Research notes that broccoli exhibits anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and cardioprotective properties. Several nutrients, such as selenium and vitamin C, and phytochemicals, such as isothiocyanates, sulforaphane may confer these benefits by boosting immunity over time.

Precautions To Take While Feeding Broccoli To Babies

The following precautions could make broccoli-eating a safe experience for your baby.

1. Introduce boiled or steamed broccoli puree or mash to your baby. Remove the stalk and use only the florets to prepare the puree or mash. Gradually shift to feeding baked, grilled, and roasted broccoli.

2. Initially, feed a teaspoon or two of broccoli puree or mash in a meal and gradually increase the intake to a tablespoon and then to two. You may serve it alone or as a part of a dish.

3. Broccoli can cause flatulence and gas in some babies. If the baby looks uncomfortable after ingesting broccoli, discontinue feeding, and try feeding small quantities later. If the problem persists, consult a pediatrician.

4. Broccoli allergy is rare but possible. Its symptoms may arise immediately after eating broccoli. Skin rash (hives), mouth-tingling, itching, wheezing, vomiting, and diarrhea are some common symptoms of food allergy.

5. Broccoli shows cross-reactivity with the Brassicaceae family members, such as cabbage, mustard, radish, and turnip. It also exhibits pollen-fruit allergy syndrome (or oral allergy syndrome) due to cross-reactivity with tree pollens, such as mugwort and birch pollen. If the baby has a family history of food allergies, then consult a doctor before introducing broccoli.

6. For older babies and toddlers, serve thinly sliced or bite-sized, small pieces of well-cooked broccoli finger foods to prevent choking. Mash the stalk with a spoon before serving until the baby seems capable of biting it.

7. As your toddler grows, serve them steamed, boiled, and stir-fried broccoli. Research says, steaming, boiling, and stir-frying are the best cooking methods to cook broccoli and conserve its nutrients.

When Can Babies Eat Broccoli?

According to the NHS, babies can consume broccoli from six months of age. You can begin feeding broccoli puree or mash to your baby and gradually blend the vegetable with other foods.

You can also make different dishes, such as broccoli soup and stew, once the baby adjusts to the broccoli’s taste and texture. Babies older than nine months can consume bite-sized thin slices of steamed or boiled broccoli florets as finger foods.

How To Select And Store Broccoli?

You can buy broccoli from stores or the local farmer’s market. You could consider the following steps to select and store broccoli properly.

Tips for Selecting Broccoli

Pick fresh broccoli with bright green or purplish-green heads. Avoid broccoli with yellow florets, wilted leaves, and rubbery, brown, or dried out stems. These are the signs that the broccoli is stale. Select fresh produce with a firm head, tightly closed florets, small and firm stalks, and crisp leaves.

The broccoli should feel heavy for its size. The cut ends of the stalks should be fresh and moist-looking.

Tips for Storing Broccoli

Store fresh broccoli unwashed in a loose or perforated plastic bag in the fridge’s crisper shelf or drawer. It will stay fresh for three to five days. Rinsing broccoli before storing can cause it to get stale quickly.

You can freeze fresh broccoli in plastic bags or airtight glass containers for 12 to 18 months after blanching. Blanching preserves the bright green color and tasty flavor. To blanch broccoli, cook broccoli in water for two to three minutes and then immediately dip it in ice-cold water. Broccoli tastes good and offers optimum nutrition when eaten fresh or stored for a brief period.

Broccoli can be given to babies from six months of age when they begin to eat solids. Broccoli puree or mashed broccoli should be given in small quantities in the initial months to check for any signs of allergies. You may gradually increase the quantity and add it to other vegetables the baby eats. The benefits of broccoli for babies are numerous since it is rich in essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A, B9, K, C, and potassium. It is also rich in dietary fibers and helps promote gut health.

Image Credit: freepik

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