With the rise in interest in both healthy and plant-based eating, the popularity of foods dubbed “superfoods” has been rising. One such vegetable is one that will have no doubt frequented many childhood meals; broccoli. The humble cruciferous vegetable boasts many health benefits. Yet, hybrid varieties are touting even greater benefits, with the production of Tenderstem broccoli. Tenderstem is a hybrid of European broccoli and Chinese kale. To see how they match up, I’m comparing the two directly..
There has been an advert going around recently claiming that per calorie, broccoli contains more protein than steak. While this appears to be true (a quick search suggested it is around 1.5 times the amount) this would involve eating much more broccoli in weight! However, on a calorie break down of a 100g serving of broccoli, there are 6.9 calories from protein, 3.1 from fat and 24 from carbohydrates. For a veggie, this is pretty good going!
Tenderstem claims to have 0.3g more of protein per 100g, half the amount of carbohydrates and a similar amount of fat. Other than the lower carb content (presumably to do with the water weight contained in the stems) there doesn’t seem too much difference between the two.
Broccoli is rated an “excellent” source for vitamins K and C, folate and chromium, and a “very good” source of many nutrients including B vitamins, potassium, fibre and phosphorus. It also does well in terms of protein, zinc, calcium and iron.
Tenderstem has almost twice the amount of calcium per 100g, slightly more potassium but less iron. Both kinds will provide you with at least 100% of the RDA of vitamin K and C per 100g.
The florets of the two broccoli types taste similar. However, the stems of plain broccoli are often too woody to eat, whereas the tenderstem’s are recommended to eat and are nutty and mild. Texture-wise, I do slightly prefer the tenderstem, but when lightly steamed both are delicious.
I get broccoli either from the organic produce section in my health food shop, or Morrions. I’m not quite sure of the organic cost, but at Morrisons, broccoli is a purse-friendly 49p for a generously-sized floret. Tenderstem on the other hand can cost £1.50-2.00 for around 200g. I like to keep an eye out over the reduced section, where I’ve bought perfectly good tenderstem broccoli for 59p.
Other things to consider is that, as a more premium product, tenderstem is often packaged up in lots of plastic, annoying for someone trying to keep her landfill waste down!
I found it pretty difficult to separate out some additional benefits, but as far as I can tell, both kinds of broccoli hold these benefits:
Anti-inflammetry: cruciferous vegetables contain isothicyanates (ITCs) which are supposed to suppress the chemicals in our body that stimulate inflammatory responses.
Anti-oxidative: the vitamin C and flavonoids contained in broccoli combat oxidative stress
Detoxification: the ITCs that reduce inflammation also facilitate the two “phases” of cell detoxification. So, more broccoli = less nasties hanging around in your cells!
The three health benefits listed above both are supposed to undermine the three factors that may increase cancer risk or encourage timor growth. BUT as I have not studied either nutrition or disease in any kind of real depth, I am not going to make any real claims or promises on this. I would say that eating a natural diet that includes broccoli is likely to reduce your risk of getting certain conditions or illnesses, but is not a cure in itself.
From the summary above, you can see that both varieties have similar properties and benefits. Tenderstem does have a few extra nutritional advantages, but whether this justifies the extra price tag and packaging is likely to be up to personal opinion. I’ll be continuing to rely more on traditional broccoli varieties, but keeping an eye out for offers, or treating myself when having a stir fry, where the texture of tenderstem wins out.