Can Turtles Eat Broccoli? Learning about the Turtle’s Diet

When you’re the caretaker of a pet, you want your pet to be as comfortable and happy as realistically possible. And since you have language barriers, knowing what’s good for your pet is completely up to you.

Wanting to know what impact your decisions can have on your turtle is normal.

Is their diet nutritious enough? Can they digest the food you are giving to them? Is it poisonous for them? Well, lucky for you, in terms of food, turtles aren’t as picky as other species.

So, you can integrate a variety of food types into their diets, and they will have no complaints.

There are, however, some vegetables that can be damaging to your turtle’s health, despite their fibrous benefits. And Broccoli is among that list.

Does this mean you can’t feed your turtle broccoli at all? How dangerous is it, and how much of it is safe to consume?

This is what you’ll find in this article and more. Because it will also answer one of the most pressing questions for your turtle: Why is it so unsafe to consume broccoli in the first place?

Do Turtles Eat Broccoli?

Turtles do and can eat broccoli.

On the contrary, many turtle owners claim that their turtles absolutely adore eating broccoli, evident in the way they happily munch the small crunchy tree with delight.

Turtles are generally flexible and open to most food types as long as it’s available and edible. This fondness is probably why turtle owners normally believe it is fine to feed it to their turtles.

However, just because your turtles love broccoli and they can eat it doesn’t necessarily mean that they should. Plus, like all animals, turtles have their own set of dietary requirements. Just feeding them, broccoli would deprive your turtle of other needed nutrients to stay healthy.

Nutrient Facts about Broccoli

Dark, green, and leafy. You’d think that broccoli is the ideal nutrient-packed vegetable for your turtle’s diet.

After all, broccoli is a superfood, claimed to have various health benefits for the human body. Plus, it’s cheap and almost always there, lying in the fridge as a leftover.

But a diet composed completely of broccoli could lead to your turtle having critical medical problems. This is why your role here as the caretaker is so important.

Let’s talk a little about broccoli. Broccoli is composed of protein, minerals, and vitamins. It’s a full-house of fiber, with 90% of water. Low in carbs, it has traces of manganese, folate, and Vitamin K1—and it has more Vitamin C than an average orange.

So many benefits of broccoli! Yes, but these were all the good nutrients.

Disadvantages of Feeding Broccoli to Your Turtle

  • Broccoli contains a few anti-nutrients in its composition, which, when taken excessively, could cause damage to your turtle’s internal organs critically. They also prevent the nutrients from being absorbed.
  • Broccoli contains oxalic acid. This acid disturbs the absorption of calcium into the system.
  • The Purine compound inside broccoli can create problems in the kidney. It also induces an excess of uric acid within the body, creating gouts inside the body as a result.
  • It also has a high concentration of Phytoestrogen. It can dismantle the hormonal balance inside the body, causing issues like infertility.
  • Phytates reduces the rate at which minerals in your turtle’s digestive tract can be absorbed into their bloodstream.
  • It also has a dose of flavonoid and glucosinolate. Both of these components turn into a substance called Goitrogen. This substance affects the iodine levels inside the turtle’s body, triggering the thyroid hormones to shoot in numbers.

These same disadvantages will occur no matter which part (leave or stem) of the Broccoli you have been feeding to your turtle.

A little more about Goitrogen

Goitrogen is the compound that overproduces Thyroid Stimulating Hormone. A hormone that leads to extensive growth of the thyroid tissue than its normal size and inevitably leads to a goiter being formed.

Turtles weren’t the only species prone to the effects of Goitrogen. Humans, animals, anyone who has thyroid glands in their system is open and vulnerable to this attack.

Turtles are on a riskier end, however. This is most likely because, unlike other mammals, turtles only have a single lobed thyroid gland in their system, which is positioned right below their heart.

Scary, right?

What about Cooked Broccoli?

Whether raw broccoli or cooked, both have the same compounds inside them. However, the cooking process does reduce the harmful contents inside it by heating and draining them out from the vegetable.

Plus, it makes the broccoli softer to eat and swallow for your turtle. Making it easier for them to digest.

Other Harmful Vegetables

Are there other vegetables that are harmful, like broccoli? Unfortunately, the answer is yes.

On the contrary, the first discovery of broccoli and other vegetables causing a goiter was made in 1928. The research tested it on rabbits—who were fed fresh cabbages daily.

Not Broccoli, but cabbages. And, all rabbits had swollen glands by the end of the research! So, yes, it’s not just Broccoli.

You could say that other vegetables from the same family as broccoli could have an element of Goitrogen inside.

A few examples of what veggies you should try to avoid and minimize are mentioned below:

  • Brussel Sprouts;
  • Cauliflower;
  • Cabbage;
  • Bok choy;
  • Mustard Greens;
  • Turnips;
  • Collard Greens.

This doesn’t mean that your turtle, or you for that matter, can’t eat broccoli at all! It shouldn’t be detrimental to health as long as it’s taken once in a blue moon and in negligible amounts.

Other Food Choices Your Turtles Should Never Have

Where feeding cruciferous vegetables is still acceptable when seldom fed, you need to keep some food choices completely out of your turtle’s diet.

Here is a list of foods you should never place in your turtle’s diet:

  • Dairy Products like Milk, Cheese, Yogurt;
  • Chocolates;
  • Chicken.

Turtles are omnivorous, however. And this is why even though their diets are primarily based on greens, their body needs animal-based proteins from time to time!

Especially when your turtle is under the age of 7 years, the ideal protein and green intake ratio for any turtle should be 50:50. Although, increasing vegetables and fruits in their diets as they grow older is also acceptable.

These protein sources could include insects (like moths, worms, and crickets) and fishes (such as sardines, trout, or turtle pellets).

What Veg Should You Feed To Your Turtle?

Turtles need a sufficient dose of Vitamins A and D in their system to sustain and thrive. These vitamins serve different purposes.

Such as adequate inclusion of Vitamin A will protect your turtle from any eyesight or respiratory attacks. Calcium will help your turtle grow, and it will strengthen the base of its shell and bones.

Broccoli provides a moderate quantity of Vitamin A and calcium at its consumption. However, there are better, safer alternatives that you could use to provide these nutrients to your turtle!

What are they? Here are a few safe examples for you:

  • A bowl of peas or green beans;
  • Zucchini;
  • Some carrots;
  • Bell peppers;
  • Cilantro;
  • Watercress;
  • Squash;
  • Parsnips;
  • Asparagus.


Turtle owners often use broccoli to feed their turtles on a daily basis. Because of the misperceived benefits of the vegetable, whether this veg could be damaging is something that rarely occurs to their owners.

They take their turtles’ non-verbal response (happily crunching the green vegetable) as consent that they are doing a good job.

But broccoli has its list of pros and cons, which, when considered together, makes it sketchy as a dietary plan.

This is why it is crucial to use broccoli occasionally. Because things done in smart moderation rarely ever become a cause of concern.