How many calories are in a whole head of broccoli?

Broccoli is a nutritious vegetable that is low in calories but high in essential vitamins, minerals and fiber. When looking at the calorie content of broccoli, it is important to consider the calories in a whole head of broccoli, rather than just a single serving size.

Calories in a Head of Broccoli

The total number of calories in an entire head of broccoli depends on the size. Here is a breakdown of the approximate calories for different sizes of heads of broccoli:

Broccoli Head Size Approximate Calories
Small (6 ounces) 50
Medium (12 ounces) 100
Large (1 pound) 134
Extra Large (1.5 pounds) 201

As you can see, a small head of broccoli contains only around 50 calories, while an extra large head can have up to 201 calories. The exact calorie count can vary slightly depending on factors like the broccoli variety and growing conditions.

Nutrition Facts for Broccoli

To understand where the calories in broccoli come from, let’s look at the nutrition facts for a 1 cup serving (91g) of chopped raw broccoli:

Nutrient Amount
Calories 31
Protein 2.6g
Carbohydrates 6g
Fiber 2.4g
Sugar 1.7g
Fat 0.4g
Vitamin C 81.2mg
Vitamin K 92.5mcg
Folate 57.3mcg
Potassium 288mg

The majority of calories in broccoli come from carbohydrates. Broccoli also provides protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants with very few calories per serving.

Benefits of Broccoli

Despite its low calorie content, broccoli offers many health benefits. Here are some of the top benefits of adding this nutritious vegetable to your diet:

  • High in antioxidants like flavonoids, kaempferol and vitamin C
  • Excellent source of vitamin K, providing over 100% DV in just 1 cup
  • Good source of folate, potassium and B vitamins
  • Fiber supports digestive and heart health
  • Contains glucoraphanin, a compound that may help prevent cancer
  • Anti-inflammatory effects
  • Nutrients like vitamin C support immune function

Research has linked broccoli intake with health benefits like lower risk of cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. The combination of nutrients, fiber and antioxidants make it a very nutrient-dense food.

Calorie Density of Broccoli

In addition to its low calorie content, broccoli has a low calorie density. Calorie density is measured as the number of calories per gram of food. Vegetables like broccoli tend to have low energy density, meaning they provide few calories relative to their size.

Here is how the calorie density of broccoli compares to other foods:

Food Calorie Density
(calories per gram)
Broccoli 0.7
Cucumber 0.6
Tomato 0.8
Strawberries 0.7
Whole wheat bread 2.7
Cheddar cheese 3.4
Salmon 2.2
Steak 2.7
Cashews 5.5

As you can see, broccoli has a very low calorie density compared to foods like cheese, nuts, bread and meat. This makes it easier to consume a large portion of broccoli without a lot of calories.

Maximizing Nutrition in Broccoli

To get the most nutrition from broccoli, there are a few preparation tips to keep in mind:

  • Avoid overcooking. Lightly steam or roast broccoli to retain nutrients.
  • Don’t discard the stems. The stems contain fiber and nutrients.
  • Allow broccoli to sit after cutting before cooking. This allows the development of sulforaphane, a potent antioxidant.
  • Enjoy broccoli raw with dips or in salads. This preserves nutrients.
  • Roast broccoli to intensify flavor and develop antioxidants.

It’s also important to store broccoli properly and consume it within a few days of purchasing. Place broccoli in a perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper drawer. Do not wash before storing as this can cause it to spoil faster.

Tips for Adding More Broccoli to Your Diet

To reap the nutrition benefits of broccoli, aim for at least 2-3 cups per week. Here are some simple ways to enjoy more broccoli:

  • Add broccoli florets or chopped stems to omelets, frittatas and egg scrambles.
  • Toss steamed broccoli into pasta dishes, risottos and stir fries.
  • Mix chopped raw broccoli into green salads or grain bowls.
  • Roast broccoli and sprinkle with parmesan cheese for a side dish.
  • Puree steamed broccoli with garlic and olive oil to make a vegetable dip.
  • Add broccoli slaw to tacos, sandwiches and wraps.
  • Make broccoli cheddar soup or creamy broccoli alfredo.

Broccoli can be enjoyed in many dishes, from breakfast to dinner. Get creative with healthful seasonings like garlic, herbs, spices, lemon and olive oil.

Does Cooking Broccoli Reduce Calories?

Cooking broccoli does not significantly impact the calorie content. According to the USDA, 1 cup of chopped raw broccoli contains 30 calories while 1 cup of chopped cooked broccoli contains 28 calories.

The minor calorie difference is likely due to water loss during the cooking process. However, the total calorie reduction from cooking broccoli is minimal.

Cooking does impact the vitamin content of broccoli. Heat can destroy heat-sensitive vitamins like vitamin C and vitamin B6. For example, cooking reduces the vitamin C content of broccoli by an average of 29%.

On the other hand, steaming, microwaving and stir frying broccoli helps retain more nutrients compared to boiling. Overall, enjoy broccoli raw or lightly cooked to maximize nutrients.

Broccoli Calories in Restaurants

When dining out, broccoli is commonly served as a cooked side dish. Here are some typical calorie counts for broccoli dishes at popular restaurants:

Restaurant Dish Calories
Steamed broccoli at Panera Bread 60
Broccoli cheese soup at Panera Bread (12 oz) 500
Grilled broccoli at Chili’s 150
Broccoli beef stir fry at P.F. Chang’s (8 oz) 170
Sauteed broccoli at Cheesecake Factory 105

As shown, steamed and grilled broccoli generally has around 60-150 calories per serving. Broccoli combined with cheese, cream and oils sees a significant calorie increase. To keep restaurant broccoli low in calories, aim for simple steamed or grilled preparations.

Broccoli Calories in Recipes

Homemade broccoli dishes can also range in calories depending on added ingredients. For example:

  • Roasted broccoli with 2 tsp olive oil – 112 calories
  • Creamy broccoli soup (1 cup) – 276 calories
  • Broccoli cheddar quiche (1 slice) – 237 calories
  • Sauteed broccoli with garlic (1 cup) – 68 calories
  • Broccoli casserole (1 cup) – 258 calories

Simple preparations using heart-healthy fats like olive oil allow you to keep broccoli recipes relatively low in calories. Loading up broccoli casseroles and soups with lots of cheese and heavy cream significantly increases the calorie counts.

Broccoli Calories in Frozen and Canned Forms

Beyond fresh broccoli, you can also find it frozen, canned and freeze-dried:

  • Frozen broccoli – 41 calories per cup
  • Canned broccoli – 30 calories per cup
  • Freeze-dried broccoli chips – 60 calories per ounce

Frozen broccoli has a very similar calorie content to fresh broccoli by weight. Canned broccoli is also low calorie but can have higher sodium content.

Freeze-dried broccoli chips are a crunchy snack option but pack in more calories by volume compared to fresh, raw broccoli florets.

Comparing Broccoli to Other Low Calorie Vegetables

Broccoli is one of many vegetables that are low in calories and high in nutrients. How does it compare calorie-wise to other popular low calorie veggies?

Vegetable Calories in 1 Cup
Spinach 7
Lettuce 5
Cucumber 16
Tomatoes 32
Bell peppers 30
Mushrooms 21
Zucchini 19
Broccoli 31

As you can see, many vegetables provide less than 50 calories per cup. Fill your plate with a variety of low calorie produce to hit your nutrient needs.

Low Calorie Broccoli-Based Meals

Broccoli can be a tasty low calorie addition to many simple meals. Here are some ideas for broccoli meals under 500 calories:

  • Broccoli and chicken pasta – 488 calories
  • Broccoli cheddar omelet – 441 calories
  • Broccoli quinoa salad – 367 calories
  • Broccoli stir fry with shrimp – 284 calories
  • Grilled chicken with roasted broccoli – 405 calories

Build a bowl, salad, omelet or stir fry with broccoli as the veggie base. Pair it with lean proteins like chicken, shrimp, eggs or plant-based proteins like quinoa or chickpeas. Flavor with herbs, spices, lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil.

Is Broccoli Good for Weight Loss?

At just 31 calories per cup, broccoli is an excellent food to include in a weight loss diet. Broccoli provides bulk and satiety with very minimal calories.

Research shows that foods with low energy density, like broccoli, can decrease hunger and promote feelings of fullness. This makes it easier to reduce overall calorie intake and lose weight.

Additionally, the fiber in broccoli slows digestion, helping you stay full for longer after meals. And the high water content of broccoli adds volume without additional calories.

For weight loss, enjoy broccoli raw as snacks or abundantly in cooked main and side dishes. Focus on simple preparations without a lot of added fat.


Broccoli is one of the lowest calorie vegetables, providing just 31 calories in 1 cup. The total calories in a whole head ranges from around 50 to 200 calories depending on the size.

With high water and fiber content, broccoli provides satiety with minimal calories. This makes it an excellent addition to a healthy weight loss diet.

Broccoli is also packed with vitamins, minerals and beneficial plant compounds. Enjoy it generously as part of balanced, nutrient-dense meals for good health and sustainable weight management.

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