Study finds no downward trend in nutritional value of broccoli

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 14th October 2011

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have demonstrated that mineral levels in new varieties of broccoli are the same as they were in 1975. Their findings were published today in Crop Science, the journal of the Crop Science Society of America.

Researchers at the USDA and Baylor College of Medicine (BCM), in Houston, analysed 14 varieties of broccoli grown at the same time in the same environment in South Carolina. Essential minerals including calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorous, iron, zinc as well as others were monitored.

Grusak and colleagues said they found no downward trend in nutritional value of commercially available broccoli. The findings challenge previous reports suggesting quality of food supplies has been declining because of an increase in directed plant breeding.

Dr. Michael Grusak, USDA plant physiologist and professor of pediatrics at BCM, who served as co-author of the paper said although previous reports suggested the quality of food supplies is declining, these reports used data that did not specify the varieties grown or the environments used for each crop’s production.

Dr Grusak said the research team decided to examine mineral nutrient changes for broccoli grown since 1975, because that was when broccoli phenotypes changed dramatically and the vegetable grew in prominence as a component in the US diet.

He said, “We know that even though breeders have changed and improved the way in which broccoli is grown over the years; there has been no change in the mineral quality of broccoli. This data can be a useful guide in the future for breeders so they can maintain this level of mineral quality.”