Broccoli When Breastfeeding: Safety and Benefits 

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Written by Amy Kaczor RDN

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We all know broccoli is a healthy vegetable that some love and others hate. However, many women wonder if they can have broccoli while they are breastfeeding.

Research shows that the fiber from cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, does not pass to the baby through breast milk. Therefore, it is safe and healthy to consume broccoli during breastfeeding. 

Let’s dive into more information regarding the benefits and possible downsides of consuming broccoli while you are nursing.

Is Broccoli Safe When Breastfeeding?

Overall, broccoli is safe to have when you are breastfeeding and, in fact, has many benefits to your health. It is rich in essential vitamins and minerals that are especially important to consume during pregnancy. 

There is no reason to avoid consuming broccoli during breastfeeding as long as it is washed well. When consuming produce of any kind, such as broccoli, it is essential to wash thoroughly under running water to reduce the risk of a foodborne illness.

Furthermore, let’s briefly cover some common variations of broccoli that many also wonder about while they are breastfeeding.

man's hand washing broccoli under running water

Common cousins to broccoli, broccoli rabe, and broccolini are green vegetables that appear similar to regular broccoli. However, they have slightly different taste profiles, with broccoli rabe, for example, tasting more bitter. These variations are safe for maternal consumption while breastfeeding, provided that they are well-washed.

However, broccoli sprouts and broccoli supplements have different health implications for nursing mothers.

Broccoli sprouts, and other sprouts, grow in humid conditions and have an increased risk of containing salmonella, E. coli, and listeria and causing food poisoning.

Therefore, as a general rule for all individuals, whether they are breastfeeding or not, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention recommends cooking sprouts, such as broccoli sprouts, to reduce the risk.

Broccoli supplementation is also a method many choose to get the most nutrition out of their vegetables. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate the production of dietary supplements until after they have already hit the health food store shelves.

Therefore, avoiding unnecessary supplementation, such as broccoli supplementation, is best since you can get a ton of nutrition from eating regular broccoli. As always, speak with your physician before starting any dietary supplement regimen.

Can Broccoli Cause Gas When Breastfeeding? 

While broccoli can cause gas in the mother, it cannot cause gas in the breastfed baby.

Many breastfeeding mothers wonder if cruciferous vegetables can cause gas and discomfort in their babies. Cruciferous vegetables are those fiber-rich veggies such as cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage that often cause gas and discomfort in the mother. 

However, the gas-causing compounds do not pass through the breastmilk to the baby and, therefore, should not cause any discomfort in the baby (source: Korean Journal of Pediatrics). Therefore, there is no reason to avoid consuming broccoli while you are nursing. 

Broccoli may cause gas and discomfort to the mother due to the high fiber content, especially if they are not used to fiber in the maternal diet. In that case, it may help to gradually increase the dietary fiber consumption rather than increase it very quickly.

Also, cooking your broccoli can help reduce the gas it causes. However, specific cooking methods, such as boiling, reduce the flavonoid content more than others, such as microwaving and steaming (source: Heliyon). 

The Benefits of Broccoli When Breastfeeding: Is it Good? 

Broccoli is rich in fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C. Also, broccoli contains antioxidants. 

Fiber is important for the mother’s health as it can help support a healthy digestive system, regulate blood sugar levels, and even lower cholesterol (source: Mayo Clinic). For example, a one-cup serving of raw broccoli contains about 2.5 grams of dietary fiber (source: U.S. Department of Agriculture [USDA] FoodData Central). 

a bowl of creamy broccoli soup

Additionally, the antioxidants present in broccoli are beneficial compounds that help to protect the cells in the body from damage from harmful free radicals (source: National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health [NCCIH]).

Free radicals are unstable compounds that are naturally produced from processes such as energy breakdown and metabolism.

Vitamin C in broccoli is necessary to support a healthy immune system and wound healing and acts as an antioxidant. The need for Vitamin C is slightly higher in a breastfeeding woman, even compared to during pregnancy (source: University of California San Francisco Health). 

In other words, broccoli is a healthy vegetable to eat during breastfeeding. Add broccoli to your soups, salads, and casseroles, or serve it as a side dish to your meal. Whether purchased fresh or frozen, eat broccoli to reap the many health benefits.

As mentioned above, make sure to slowly and gradually incorporate cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, into your diet to avoid any gastrointestinal discomfort. 

Overall, I hope this article helped explain the benefits and possible side effects of consuming broccoli during your breastfeeding journey.