Broccoli & FODMAPs: A Dietitian’s Guide to Green Giants
Is it okay to eat broccoli on the low FODMAP diet?
This is a pretty common question in the FODMAP community. There appears to be confusion regarding this popular vegetable and whether or not it can be consumed during the elimination phase. To provide you with a simple answer, yes! Broccoli is low FODMAP. But like many other vegetables, portion size matters. Keep reading to discover our favorite broccoli-based recipes and see where the science nets out.
Broccoli FODMAP Test Results
In recent years, Monash, the leader in FODMAP research, has retested whole broccoli, broccoli crowns, and broccoli stalks. Good news! Each of these has a low FODMAP serving size.
- Whole broccoli: Green at 3/4 cup (75g)
- Crowns: Green at 3/4 cup (75g)
- Stalks: Green at 1/3 cup (45g)
It’s also worth mentioning that broccoli crowns do not reach moderate amounts of fructose until serving sizes reach 2 1/2 cups. This gives you quite a bit of leeway when greening up your plate this winter.
Based on this information, I feel comfortable pushing portions of broccoli crowns a bit, especially if your IBS symptoms are under good control. As a quick comparison, FODMAP Friendly states that broccoli (no mention of crown or stalk) is low FODMAP at 1 cup.
What About Broccolini?
Broccolini, a cross breed of broccoli and Chinese broccoli, has also been tested and shown to be low FODMAP. Similar to broccoli, broccolini’s crowns and stalks have different serving sizes, so be sure to look at the Monash app for more details.
The Confusion around FODMAPs and Broccoli
Cruciferous Vegetables, Gas, & Bloating
Many of us have been told by doctors, bloggers, and the general public alike that broccoli is one of the cruciferous vegetables, which have a reputation for being gas producers. Cruciferous vegetables have sulfur-containing chemicals, which may lead to pretty smelly farts (sorry, facts are facts).
Broccoli, beans, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage also contain raffinose, a complex sugar that our bodies have trouble digesting. Since raffinose is a non-digestible sugar, it ends up in the large intestines unchanged. Our gut bacteria then breaks it down via a process called fermentation, which leads to increased gas production.
Cutting back on gas producing foods is often a first step recommendation when one suffers from excessive gas and bloating, but under a FODMAP lens, broccoli is still considered low.
Conflicting FODMAP Lists
When starting the diet, you were likely handed a list of high and low FODMAP foods from your healthcare provider. Unfortunately, many of these lists are inaccurate and show broccoli as high FODMAP. So why is broccoli on both high and low FODMAP lists?
As many of us know, portion sizes play a huge role in the FODMAP world. One specific food can be high or low FODMAP based on the amount consumed. Well, the reference portion size of broccoli (and many other fruits and vegetables for that matter) is not always well defined on these lists. Some use a portion size of ½ cup while others use 1 cup. Since whole broccoli is low FODMAP at ¾ cup, it often gets placed on one side or the other.
This is one of the main reasons we recommend using caution with high and low FODMAP lists. It is so important to use the Monash app in conjunction with Spoonful to understand safe serving sizes.
The Low FODMAP Diet is Not One Size Fits All
For those who strongly believe broccoli is contributing to their IBS symptoms, feel free to avoid this vegetable during the elimination phase. We are all unique and this specific vegetable may in fact be contributing to some uncomfortable symptoms.
As mentioned above, maybe the raffinose sugar is contributing to some of your IBS flares. You are not alone as broccoli is quite often reported as a trigger food. I would highly encourage you to incorporate it into the reintroduction phase after symptoms are better controlled to confirm your reaction to this super healthy, popular vegetable.
Easy Ways to Enjoy Broccoli
Broccoli is a good source of fiber, iron, calcium (contains 43mg calcium in 1 cup per USDA database), vitamins A, C, and K, plus folate and potassium. This green giant is definitely a great addition to anyone’s diet, so here are a few ways to work it into your meals.
If you are looking for a cold broccoli salad this delicious recipe by Monash is definitely worth a try.
If you are tired of steamed broccoli, you may want to try roasting it. Believe it or not, my kids are always requesting this healthy side dish by Love and Lemons. If you are feeling fancy, sprinkle with parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes, or a squeeze of lemon.
Here is a super tasty broccoli fritters recipe by Kate Scarlata if you’re looking for a fun way to add in some broccoli.
For a warm, winter soup check out Ignite’s Nutrition Low FODMAP Broccoli Cheddar.
Have You Tried Riced Broccoli?
Many of us are familiar with riced cauliflower, a definite no during the low FOMDAP elimination phase, but what about riced broccoli? When you purchase a bag of riced broccoli at the grocery store, you are mostly getting the broccoli stems, not the crowns. It would be best to limit your portion to ⅓ cup if you want to incorporate this healthy veggie into a dish.
In recent months I discovered this Broccoli & Kale Pizza Crust from Trader Joe’s which I was pretty excited about as it contains no garlic or cauliflower. To keep broccoli in check, stick with one serving or ⅙ of the pizza crust.
We hope this article helps to inspire and clear up any confusion around this amazing vegetable. If broccoli is not your jam, you can always enjoy other low FODMAP vegetables like zucchini, lettuce greens, green beans, bok choy, cucumbers, and kale to ensure your diet contains ample fiber and nutrients.