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Broccoli is widely considered a superfood. That’s due to its abundance of essential nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Broccoli’s dense nutritional profile is the primary reason many cat owners would readily share this vegetable with their feline housemates. But is broccoli safe for cats to eat?
This article shall demystify that question by looking at some of the potential health benefits and adverse effects of broccoli for cats.
Can Cats Eat Broccoli?
Yes, they can.
Broccoli frequently appears among the many vegetables that cats can safely eat. That’s because it doesn’t contain compounds known to trigger immediate toxicity in cats.
Besides, broccoli is rich in nutrients that cats need for healthy growth and development.
More About Broccoli
Broccoli is an edible green plant in the family Brassicaceae, the same family that produces other popular vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower, kale, collards, and Brussels sprouts.
Broccoli is scientifically known as Brassica oleracea var. italic. The plant traces its origin in Italy.
What Do Broccolis Look Like?
Broccolis are characterized by their large, typically dark-green flower heads that resemble a tree’s canopy.
The mass of flower heads branches out from a thick, usually light-green stalk and is surrounded by leaves.
Where Did Broccoli Come From?
Broccoli originated from the northern Mediterranean around the 6th century BCE. The plant was developed by breeding landrace Brassica crops. It’s among the many vegetables that were developed by artificial selection.
Although there’s documented evidence suggesting widespread cultivation of primitive broccoli cultivars in the Roman Empire, the modern broccoli is believed to have been improved through artificial selection in Sicily, Italy. It’s from here that the vegetable spread to other parts of the world.
Where Did The Name “Broccoli” Come From?
The word ‘broccoli’ derives from the Italian plural of “broccolo,” which loosely translates to ‘the flowering crest of a cabbage.’
“Broccolo” is the diminutive variation of ‘brocco,’ which means “sprout” or “small nil.”
What Nutrients Does Broccoli Provide?
A 100-gram serving of raw broccoli is 90% water, 6% carbohydrate, 3% protein, and 1% fat.
For the same serving amount, you get 34 calories (141 kilojoules) and a host of essential vitamins and minerals. They include vitamins C, K, B2, and B3, as well as iron, zinc, phosphorus, and potassium.
And like most vegetables in the Brassicaceae family, broccoli is loaded with powerful antioxidants.
What Are the Benefits of Broccoli in Cats?
1. Broccoli May Hydrate Your Cat
Broccoli comprises at least 90% water. Therefore, the vegetable can serve as an effective rehydrating supplement.
2. Broccoli May Aid Weight Loss
Broccoli is fairly high in dietary fiber and protein. Foods containing the triple threat of fiber, protein, and water are famous for their filling effects.
So, feeding broccoli to your cat may help prevent weight gain caused by increased appetite and hunger pangs.
3. Broccoli May Support Your Cat’s Bowel Movements
Fiber isn’t only useful in aiding weight loss in cats. The nutrient can also support bowel movements due to its stool-bulking effects.
Besides, studies have shown that consuming fiber-rich foods might lower the risks of metabolic disorders, including leaky gut and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
4. Broccoli May Rejuvenate Your Cat’s Skin
Broccoli is a popular source of vitamin C or ascorbic acid. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant best known for its positive effects on the skin.
The vitamin is involved in the formation of collagen and the repair of tissues. It can also reduce the markers of premature aging, thereby rejuvenating your cat’s coat.
5. Broccoli May Support Wound Healing
Broccoli is also chockfull of vitamin K, a water-soluble vitamin essential for blood clotting. Therefore, giving your cat broccoli might help speed up wound healing.
Vitamin K also regulates calcium levels in the body, consequently guarding against degenerative bone diseases.
6. Broccoli May Boost Your Cat’s Immunity
Broccoli contains many antioxidants, such as kaempferol. Kaempferol is associated with reduced risks of cancer, heart disease, and allergies.
The vegetable is also high in lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene, a group of antioxidants that may improve your cat’s vision.
Below are other common nutrients in broccoli and how each one might benefit your cat;
• Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) – Is involved in energy production and blood circulation.
• Vitamin B3 (Niacin) – Might regulate your cat’s blood pressure while also boosting his cognitive functions.
• Iron – Is essential in the manufacture of hemoglobin.
• Zinc – Might boost your cat’s immunity while also aiding DNA synthesis.
• Phosphorus – Might help strengthen your cat’s bones and teeth.
• Potassium – Maintains cellular functions, blood pressure, muscle contraction, and the nervous system.
What Are the Risks of Broccoli for Cats?
Vegetables in the cruciferous family tend to cause bloating. That’s regardless of whether they’re consumed raw or cooked. The risks of flatulence are higher for cats with preexisting tummy issues, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Broccoli also contains isothiocyanates and sulforaphane, a compound associated with hyperthyroidism. Fortunately, boiling can reduce the levels of these compounds substantially, making broccoli safe for your feline friend.
Lastly, your cat could suffer allergic reactions to broccoli if the vegetable isn’t properly introduced to them.
Broccoli is generally safe for cats, whether served raw or cooked. It’s potentially nutritious too.
But like most vegetables, broccoli is only okay for cats if fed in moderation. Talk to your vet if your kitto develops adverse reactions to broccoli-based diets.