Rapini: The amazing health benefits of the broccoli relative

Also known as broccoli rabe, rapini is packed with cancer-fighting properties. Try our rapini soup recipe


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Rapini is one rapturous and dramatic vegetable. People either run from the grassy, slightly bitter, but in my opinion, deeply-satisfying flavour or seek it out on every menu and at every farmers’ market.

Also known as broccoli rabe, it’s one of the most popular greens in Italy, and one of my favourite Toronto restaurants, 7 Numbers, prepares it in classic Italian way by grilling it with some extra virgin olive oil and serving it with garlic. This extra dark green brassica vegetable contains vitamins A, B, C, K, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc and even some omega 3 fatty acid.

Allow me to rave some more about rapini’s benefits:

1. Rapini has cancer-fighting properties
Rapini contains powerful cancer fighting phytochemicals called indole-3-carbonol (I3C). I3C helps prevent cellular damage caused by free radicals, maintains a healthy hormonal balance for both men and women and even reduce yeast infections in the body. A study in Japan reported that foods rich in I3C killed Candida albicans, the yeast strain that often overgrows when we take anti-biotics.

2. Rapini helps keep bones strong
Rapini’s bone-strengthening properties are the outcome of its vitamin K content. One half cup serving contains 169 micrograms of vitamin K1, a daily dose enough to keep your bones from thinning. A study of 72,327 nurses found that those consuming 109 mcg of vitamin K1 a day had a lower risk of hip fracture over a 10 year period.

3. Rapini lowers the risk of heart disease
Rapini contains strong anti-inflammatory nutrients, such as folate and vitamin C. Both nutrients reduce homocysteine, a type of amino acid that can damage the arteries causing coronary heart disease.

4. Detox and heal with rapini
Rapini is one of the many cruciferous vegetables that contain sulfur. Sulfur contains a specific compound called methyl solfonyl methane (MSM) that assists detoxification of the liver. Dr. Usha reported the effectiveness of MSM to reduce inflammation in arthritis patients.

5. Improve insulin sensitivity with rapini
Rapini contains two grams of fibre for every cup. Specifically, the fibre in rapini is soluble fibre, which slows transit and digestion time in the GI tract. Soluble fibre dissolves in water to form a gel-like material that lowers blood cholesterol and glucose levels. Combining rapini with a high carbohydrate meal (such as a pasta dish) will reduce the insulin response, which in turn will prevent both hyper and hypoglycemia.

Rapini dilly lime soup recipe

This wonderful soup created by my sister Lynn Daniluk completely masks the bitterness of rapini. She created this recipe for my grandmother who finds rapini too intense in flavour. When grandma asked for a second bowl, Lynn was so happy as she knew she was giving her the nutrition she needs to stay healthy at 92! The walnuts and hemp seeds supply omega 3 fatty acids to support my grandma’s active brain.



2 cups (500 mL) chopped onion
2 large cloves of garlic
6 ¼ cups (2.6 L) water, divided
4 cups (1 L) chopped rapini
6 cups (1.5 L) chopped cauliflower
1 tbsp (15 mL) sea salt
3 tbsp (45 mL) dry dill (double this if using fresh)
¾ cup (185 mL) fresh squeezed lime juice
1 tsp (5 mL) organic olive, hemp or lemon flavoured fish oil
1½ cups (375 mL) whole organic walnuts (organic tend to be fresh and sweet)
½ cup (125 mL) hemp seeds (use more walnuts if hemp is not available)

1. In a large pot, sauté the onions and garlic in 100 mL of water for 5 minutes.
2. Once the onions are translucent, add the remaining water, rapini, cauliflower, sea salt and dill. Bring to a boil, reduce to medium heat and let simmer for 15 minutes.
3. Remove from heat and puree the mixture in a blender with the fresh lime juice, hemp seeds and walnuts until creamy smooth. Walnuts will leave a bit of texture if they are not finely pureed.
4. Top individual bowls with a fine organic oil of your choice. My personal favorite is lemon flavoured NutraSea by Ascenta.

Makes 12 servings.

Julie Daniluk hosts Healthy Gourmet (OWN: the Oprah Winfrey Network), a reality cooking show that highlights the ongoing battle between taste and nutrition. Her first book, Meals That Heal Inflammation (Random House) is now available and will help people enjoy allergy-free foods that taste great and assist the body in the healing process.

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