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.