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Does Broccoli Help Build Muscle? (Probably, Here's Why)

Updated: Jun 18

You've seen all bodybuilders eat chicken, rice and broccoli, but does broccoli help you build muscle? The short answer is yes, and no.

Broccoli itself does not build muscle, but the chemical found in broccoli can help build muscle, I'll explain how further on.

Table of Contents:

bowl of broccoli on a table

What Is Broccoli?

Broccoli is an edible green plant from the cabbage family that is consumed as a vegetable.

It is a cultivar of the plant Brassica oleracea that belongs to the Italica cultivar group.

A variety of minerals and vitamins are found in broccoli, including the following.

  • Fibre

  • Vitamin C

  • Vitamin K

  • Iron

  • Potassium

  • Manganese

  • Vitamin B9

It also has a much higher protein content (29% by dry weight) than the majority of other vegetables, which may be the reason bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts eat this vegetable more often.

Although protein contributes to muscle growth, the amount of broccoli you would need to consume to get an adequate amount of protein is too high.

They may be eaten raw or cooked, but new study has shown that steaming vegetables offers the greatest benefits when preparing them. (1)

However, it's vitamin, mineral and protein content is not what sets broccoli apart from the rest in terms of muscle building.

Broccoli Active Ingredients

Broccoli contains many active ingredients, as shown below.

I'll go into much more depth about each of these active ingredients in the sections that follow.

Sulforaphane and quercetin are the two most important muscle-building chemicals present in broccoli.


Sulforaphane, a chemical found in broccoli and one of the most prevalent and widely researched plant compounds, may provide protection against a variety of cancers and other diseases. (2)

It also decreases the level of myostatin in the body, myostatin is responsible for limiting muscle growth. (3)

Therefore, sulforaphane may have the ability to increase muscle growth.

sulforaphane process illustration


Due to the fact that it has the ability to reduce inflammation while functioning as a strong antioxidant, quercetin seems to be great for overall health.

Quercetin also has the ability to improve exercise performance, helping you to have better workouts. (4)

Therefore, the quercetin found in broccoli can help you build muscle.

You can read more about quercetin here.

illustration of fruits containing quercetin and their dosages


Broccoli includes the antioxidants lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene, all of which may be beneficial to eye and general health.

They may also be beneficial for the immune system and general growth.


Kaempferol, which is an antioxidant with many health advantages, may help to protect against heart disease, cancer, inflammation, and allergy symptoms.

This is great for overall health, especially for an active fitness enthusiast.


Indole-3-Carbinol is an antioxidant which offers a wide range of advantages, including the ability to reduce blood pressure and heart health.

Again, great for overall health promotion.

Does Broccoli Build Muscle?

Broccoli itself doesn't contribute much to building muscle. However, two compounds found within broccoli can help build muscle.

A compound known as sulforaphane has the ability to reduce myostatin.

Myostatin reduces the body's ability to grow new muscle, by reducing myostatin levels you can grow muscle faster.

Quercetin is another compound found in broccoli, it can help improve exercise performance.

Improving exercise performance can help improve your workouts, which in turn, helps build muscle.

Further Reading

> Bananas: Can They Help You Build Muscle? > Reps & Sets for Building Muscle (Complete Guide)


This section contains links to research, studies, and sources of information for this article, as well as authors, contributors, etc. All sources, along with the article and facts, are subjected to a series of quality, reliability, and relevance checks.

Real Muscle primarily uses high-quality sources, such as peer-reviewed publications, to back up the information in our articles. To understand more about how we fact-check and keep our information accurate, dependable, and trustworthy, read more about us.

This evidence-based analysis of broccoli and its effects on muscle growth features 4 references, listed below.

1. Yuan GF, Sun B, Yuan J, Wang QM. Effects of different cooking methods on health-promoting compounds of broccoli. J Zhejiang Univ Sci B. (2009, Aug) ✔

2. Lenzi M, Fimognari C, Hrelia P. Sulforaphane as a promising molecule for fighting cancer. Cancer Treat Res. (2014) (Review) ✔

3. Fan H, Zhang R, Tesfaye D, Tholen E, Looft C, Hölker M, Schellander K, Cinar MU. Sulforaphane causes a major epigenetic repression of myostatin in porcine satellite cells. Epigenetics. (2012, Dec) ✔

4. Kressler J, Millard-Stafford M, Warren GL. Quercetin and endurance exercise capacity: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Med Sci Sports Exerc. (2011, Dec) (Review) ✔

Citations with a tick indicate the information is from a trusted source.


The information provided in this article is not intended to replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the guidance of a physician or other competent professional before following advice or taking any supplement. See our terms and conditions.

Real Muscle leads the way in terms of transparency and privacy, which is why we want to let you know that some of the outbound links in this article may be affiliate links in which we may earn a small commission through. Despite this, our product recommendations are completely unbiased.

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