Broccoli Showdown: Raw vs Cooked

Broccoli - raw vs cooked - by Fooducate

We were recently asked by a Fooducate community member, who regularly consumes broccoli, what the nutritional difference is between cooked and raw broccoli. This is an interesting question, because heat and other processing have a definite effect on the bio-availability of nutrients. That effect is usually a reduction in nutrients, though not always. Most famous are lycopenes, a type of antioxidant, that become more available when a tomato is cooked compared to its raw state.

Let’s take a deeper look at broccoli. Our source for information is the USDA product nutrition database. There are multiple search result for the term broccoli depending on your choice of stem, florets, salt etc… We will compare raw broccoli to cooked broccoli. We will compare a 100 gram portion – about two thirds of a cup.

Both have the same amount of calories: 35.

Fiber – 2.6 grams (g) for raw broccoli, and 3.3g for cooked. More for cooked! Are you surprised? The daily recommended value is 25 grams of fiber so it’s not a major difference between the two preparation methods.

Potassium – raw has 316mg, cooked has 293mg,  while the daily value is 3500mg, so no biggie.

Vitamin C – raw broccoli has 90mg, cooked just 65mg. Which means that raw broccoli has 40% more vitamin C than the cooked version. Before you throw away your pots and pans, consider the fact that the daily requirement for vitamin C is 60mg. This means that with one serving of COOKED broccoli, you can more than 100% of your daily vitamin C.

Iron – 0.73 mg for raw vs. 0.67 for cooked. The daily requirement is 18mg, so neither raw or cooked will do much for you.

Calcium – raw broccoli contains 47mg, while cooked has 40mg. The daily value is 1000mg, so the difference between raw / cooked is negligible.

Folate – raw has 63 micrograms, and cooked broccoli has 108 micrograms. The daily value is 400 microgram, so cooked has the advantage here.

And so on and so forth…

As you can see, for most nutrients, the differences are insignificant compared to the daily needs of your body. The only exception is vitamin C, but even cooked broccoli gives you more than 100% of your daily needs.

Bottom line: prepare and eat broccoli any which way which will help you consume more. If you are cooking, make sure not to overdo it. Broccoli contains pugnacious hydrogen sulfide, which is released as it cooks. Cook or steam broccoli just to the point of tenderness, and before the stink appears.

  • Bill Dugger

    Raw wakes the chew and adds variety.

  • Xeno

    Raw is also full of goitrogens.

    • BlkJeansandDiamonds

      Yes, and that’s why people with hypothyroidism are advised not to eat raw broccoli.

  • califdemdreamer

    I like mine lightly steamed or sauteed just long enough to bring out the bright green.

  • ryan Kauffman

    Vitamin A is far greater in the cooked (1548 vs 623 iu). And Vitamin K is significantly higher too.

  • Linda

    Research shows blood levels of vitamin C go up higher in study participants who eat cooked vs. raw broccoli – cooking makes vitamin C more bioavailable. Lutein is also better absorbed from cooked veggies than raw.

  • Carol H.

    I would hesitate to draw many conclusions from USDA data. Their database has been “out of sorts” since they updated it, plus there are other limitations of such data. Sometimes when I do a search and select a broccoli (raw, cooked, whatever), the report that comes up isn’t even for broccoli, but some other veggie, like corn or cauliflower. Also, from looking at the data you got for raw vs. cooked, things don’t add up. They can’t both have the same calories per 100 g serving, because the cooked version will have more water content, which will dilute all nutrients (including calories). In addition, lab testing doesn’t show bio-availability of nutrients, only what is actually there in the food (before you eat it)… so only nutrients that are physically destroyed by cooking or lost in the water (e.g., vitamin C and Bs, such as folate) would show any difference (loss) after cooking, per equal calorie serving. Vitamin A should not show an increase, except to the extent that it is more concentrated in cooked, drained product, especially in a paste or concentrate. And, the fiber would be lower in cooked vs. raw broccoli (at least as far as our digestive system is concerned… and that’s not a piece of data available in the USDA database).

    It is also completely possible that the broccoli used for the raw testing came from a completely different location/season and stored a different amount of time vs. the cooked one. Veggies and fruit can vary quite a bit on those factors alone, without even being cooked/processed. But yes, overall, we can get more of the nutrients from a slightly cooked piece of broccoli than raw (of the same calories), because of the breakdown of the fiber (something that, again, these lab tests are not very good at quantifying). Tender veggies (lettuce, etc.) are better eaten raw as they have more water and less fiber.

    • Kim

      I agree. Although it’s a small point, these numbers don’t add up to be fit common sense. That makes me question the sources.

  • James Cooper

    I do not believe fiber can magically appear during cooking. Something is out of whack there.

  • Simon

    Not much of a showdown if you don’t even mention the most important substance in broccoli ie sulforaphane.

  • really?

    Hey, some raw, some cooked. Now, wasn’t that simple? Either way you’re dong much better than anything coming out of a box, can, or package.

  • Ha Mashiach

    Broccoli contains high amounts of omegas which go rancid during the cooking process.

  • Krims Enlight

    I eat 10 pounds of veggies a day with 40 servings of fruit. Zero meat. I throw trucks around for fun.