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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Broccoli Remains Packed with Health Benefits

USDA Research Demonstrates New Breeds of
Broccoli Remain Packed with Health Benefits

OCTOBER 13, 2011.—Research performed by scientists at the U.S.
Department of Agriculture (USDA) and published recently in
the journal Crop Science has demonstrated that mineral levels
in new varieties of broccoli have not declined since 1975, and
that the broccoli contains the same levels of calcium, copper,
iron, magnesium, potassium and other minerals that have made
the vegetable a healthy staple of American diets for decades.

“This research provides data on the nutritional content of
broccoli for breeders to consider as they further improve this
important vegetable,” said Edward B. Knipling, administrator of
the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), USDA’s principal
intramural scientific research agency. “The research demonstrates
how ARS is helping to find answers to agricultural problems
that impact Americans every day, from field to table.”
A team of three scientists evaluated the mineral content
of 14 broccoli cultivars released over a span of more than 50
years: ARS geneticist and research leader Mark Farnham at the
agency’s U.S. Vegetable Laboratory in Charleston, S.C.; plant
physiologist Michael Grusak at the USDA-ARS Children’s
Nutrition Research Center (CNRC) in Houston, Texas; and
Clemson University scientist Anthony Keinath.

The researchers grew the 14 cultivars in two field trials in
2008 and 2009, and harvested florets for testing.

“Our studies show that not much has changed in terms of
mineral content in the last 35 years in a crop that has undergone
significant improvement from a quality standpoint and that was
not widely consumed in the United States before the 1960s,”
said Farnham.

Broccoli florets in the study were tested for levels of calcium,
copper, iron, potassium, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum,
sodium, phosphorous, sulfur and zinc. Results indicated signifi-
cant cultivar differences in floret concentrations of calcium,
copper, iron, magnesium, sodium, phosphorous and zinc, but
not of potassium, manganese, molybdenum or sulfur. There
was no clear relationship between mineral concentration and
release year.

“For broccoli cultivars grown during the past 35 years, when
hybrids became the standard cultivar, evidence indicates that
mineral concentrations remain unchanged,” said Farnham. “As
broccoli breeders continue to improve this crop in the future,
data from this study can serve as a very useful guide in helping
breeders understand the variation in mineral concentrations they
should expect among their breeding stocks and also provide a
realistic baseline that should be maintained as other characteristics
are manipulated in the future.”

As USDA’s chief scientific research agency, ARS is leading
America toward a better future through agricultural research
and information.


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