Benefificial Properties Of Broccoli For Canaries
Broccoli (Brassica oleracea var. Italica) is a vegetable belonging to the Brassicaceae family. This vegetable family also includes the cauliflower, varieties of cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi and kale.
Other than its common uses in cooking, broccoli has numerous beneficial properties for the health of many domestic birds, such as canaries. In this AnimalWised article we will discuss the beneficial properties of broccoli for canaries.
Nutritional composition of broccoli
It is important to know the nutritional composition of this vegetable in order to better understand the effects that broccoli has on the body. According to the database of the USDA (Department of Agriculture of the United States), 100 grams of broccoli contains the following nutrients:
- Energy: 34kcal
- Water: 89.3g
- Protein: 2.82g
- Total Fat: 0.37g
- Carbohydrates: 6.64g
- Total sugars: 1.7g
- Total fiber: 2.6g
- Calcium: 47mg
- Iron: 0.73mg
- Magnesium: 21mg
- Manganese: 0.21mg
- Phosphorus: 66mg
- Potassium: 316mg
- Zinc: 0.41mg
- Vitamin A: 31μg
- β-carotene: 361μg
- Vitamin C: 89.2mg
- Vitamin B1 (thiamine): 0.071mg
- Vitamin B2 (riboflavin): 0.117mg
- Vitamin B3 (niacin or vitamin PP): 0.639mg
- Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid): 0.573mg
- Vitamin B6: 0.175mg
- Vitamin B9 (folic acid): 63μg
- Vitamin E: 0.78mg
- Vitamin K: 101.6μg
Properties of broccoli- health
Several scientific studies have shown the positive impact that continued consumption of broccoli can have on the human body. These benefits also extent to birds. The main benefits of broccoli are;
1. Anti-cancer properties
Broccoli contains important anti-cancer properties, due to its high content of sulfur compounds and natural antioxidants. Various studies show that regular consumption of cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, are effective in reducing the risk of developing various types of cancer, such as breast, prostate and lung cancers. 
A study conducted in the Journal Of Oncogenesis showed that sulphurous compounds of broccoli are also capable of preventing the abnormal growth of cells.  These compounds also induce the death of cancer cells.
In addition, due to its content of a chemical compound called nature-3-carbinol, broccoli helps prevent cell damage and stimulates DNA repair. 
2. Hepatoprotective properties
Recent studies conducted by the University of Illinois, demonstrated a "new" hepatoprotective property that had not yet been attributed to broccoli. Through tests, researchers observed that the consumption of broccoli, 3 to 5 times a week, can be beneficial in preventing the development of hepatocellular carcinoma (liver cancer). In addition, they have observed a considerable reduction in tumor cell concentration of liver tissue. 
3. Antioxidant and cardioprotective properties
Broccoli contains a large amount of natural antioxidants, such as vitamin C, flavonoids and glucosinolates. The actions of these compounds in the body inhibits the oxidation of LDL cholesterol and prevents adhesion of plaque (bad cholesterol) on the inner walls of the arteries.
Arteriosclerosis (one of the main causes of cardiovascular diseases and strokes), is a result of the oxidation of LDL cholesterol molecules, which can lead to the accumulation of lipid and insoluble plaque inside the arteries. This accumulation can interfere with blood circulation and harm body oxygenation. Therefore, regular consumption of broccoli, either as food or supplements, is recommended. This consumption can help prevent arteriosclerosis and reduce risk of; heart disease, myocardial infarction, cardiovascular accidents (CVA) and strokes.
4. Digestive properties
Broccoli is rich in fibers. Therefore regular broccoli consumption stimulates intestinal transit, promotes digestion and acts as a potent home remedy for constipation. These same fibers facilitate fat digestion and aids in lowering cholesterol levels in the bloodstream.
When we consume high-fat foods, bile acids are released in order to emulsify the fat molecules. This digestive process takes place in the intestine. Broccoli fibers are able to counteract these bile acids and promote the elimination of cholesterol through faeces, in turn preventing them from being reabsorbed by the body. This action reduces the reserves of bile acid and cholesterol, "forcing" the body to metabolize whatever cholesterol is available in the blood. 
Therefore, simply put, fibers presented in broccoli not only improve digestion, but also help to reduce cholesterol levels in the blood. This reaffirms that broccoli is an excellent ally in preventing symptoms of dementia and cardiovascular disease.
Benefits of broccoli for canaries
Now that we know the properties and benefits that broccoli contains, we can look how it can positively affect canaries;
- Strengthen immune systems: broccoli is rich in fibers, minerals (iron, calcium, magnesium, etc.) and vitamins (A, C, K, B complex). These are all essential nutrients needed to strengthen the immune system. This composition aids to prevent avitaminosis and other diseases common in canaries. In addition, vitamin A is excellent for the promotion of bird vision.
- Improve digestion and intestinal transit: broccoli fibers help to improve intestinal transit. These fibers act as a natural remedy for constipation, a common problem in domestic poultry.
- Combat infections and virosis: broccoli offers a significant concentrations of quercetin and kaemperol, two flavonoid compounds that contain: anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, antiviral, cardioprotective and antidepressant properties.  These properties are excellent for the prevention of infectious diseases that can affect a canary’s health. Its anti-inflammatory action also assists in the treatment of gout, a chronic disease that often affects canaries.
- Prevent chronic and degenerative diseases: the antioxidant properties of flavonoids presented in broccoli are vital in combating free radicals. It also assists in the prevention of cell damage and degenerative cardiovascular diseases.
- Beauty and physical resistance: the high contribution of vitamins and minerals that broccoli contains positively impacts skin regeneration and the formation of tissue. Therefore,it can be beneficial in improving the physical resistance and appearance of a canary’s feathers.
- Combat anemias: vitamin K offered by broccoli, when administered in moderate doses, helps fight and treat anemia in canaries.
- Reproductive health: broccoli provides folic acid (vitamin B9) to canaries. B9 is an essential nutrient in the formation of DNA, the development of muscle tissue and cell regeneration. Its administration as a supplement during pregnancy helps preserve good health for female canaries. In addition, it is essential in avoiding deformations and chick mortality.
Side effects and contraindications of broccoli
As with other foods, abuse or over-consumption of this vegetable can result in side effects. The fibers present in broccoli, when consumed in excess, can cause diarrhea. In addition, because this vegetable is very rich in vitamin K (containing an anticoagulant effect), excessive consumption can increase the risk of internal bleeding.
How to offer broccoli to a canary?
When we boil broccoli, this vegetable loses about 80% of its beneficial properties. Therefore, we recommend offering your canary raw broccoli. You can either grate it or process it and mix it in with other foods.
Broccoli can also be steamed for a few seconds, put into a food processor and transformed into a porridge. This option is better suited for chicks or old canaries, allowing for easier digestion.
Recommended dosage of broccoli for canaries
As we have seen, the regular consumption of broccoli offers numerous benefits to canaries.
There is no single dose defined for canaries. The dose should be adequately measured to the weight and health status of each bird. Therefore, it is essential that you consult a veterinarian before making changes to your bird’s diet. A professional can guide you regarding the appropriate amount and form of administration of this food.
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