Eat Your Cruciferous Vegetables!

Cruciferous vegetables are Super Foods.

They are high in vitamin C and fiber and contain phytochemicals that are known to fight diseases such as cancer, heart disease.

These vegetables are member of the broccoli and cabbage family and include kale, collard greens, cauliflower, cabbage, water cress, bok choy, arugula, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, turnip root greens, rutabaga, radish, mustard seeds and horseradish.  They are named cruciferous from the Latin word, cruciferae meaning cross bearing, because their flowers have four pedals in the shape of a cross.

Cruciferous Vegetables and Lower Cancer Rates

The phytochemicals in cruciferous vegetables, namely a class called to glucosinolates, have been linked to lower cancer risks.  Over 100 different glucosinolates have been identified in cruciferous vegetables, and all of the glucosinolates studied to date have been shown to have anti-cancer properties. (1)

According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, some of these compounds have shown the ability to stop the growth of cancer cells for tumors in the breast, uterine lining, lung, colon, liver and cervix.  And studies have found that men who eat a diet high in cruciferous vegetables have a lower rate of prostate cancer.  (2)

Cruciferous vegetables have a high degree of anti-oxidant properties, helping to  reduce  free radicals in the body, thereby reducing the risk of colon, lung, prostate, breast, and other cancers.  Studies have shown that some of the phytochemicals found in cruciferous vegetables – sulforaphane,  indole 3-carbinol and crambene, not only help neutralize free radicals, they  actually  stimulate enzymes in the body that detoxify carcinogens before they damage cells.  And this protection isn’t short lived; the phytochemicals in cruciferous vegetables continue to protect our bodies for 3-5 days after they are eaten. (3)

According to Dr. Joel Fuhrman, studies have shown that if consumption of plant food intake goes up 20% in a population, cancer rates typically drop 20%.  But cruciferous vegetables have been shown to be twice as effective.  As cruciferous vegetable intake goes up 20% in a population, cancer rates drop 40%.  In another study on prostate cancer, it was found that 28 servings of vegetables per week decreased the risk of prostate cancer by 33%, but 3 or more servings of cruciferous vegetables per week decreased the risk by 41% (4)

Cruciferous Vegetables and Lower Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

Diets rich cruciferous vegetables may also help to protect against cardiovascular disease.  A recent study found that such a diet rich in cruciferous vegetables was linked to lower levels of markers of inflammation in the body (4).  Cruciferous vegetables are also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) – an important anti inflammatory compound in the body (1).

Studies have shown that In some individuals susceptible to high blood sugar, the anti-inflammatory properties of some of the phytochemicals in cruciferous vegetables (sulforaphane) may be able to prevent, or even reverse some of the damage to blood vessel linings that can be caused by chronic blood sugar problems. Decreased risk of heart attacks and strokes may also eventually be linked in a statistically significant way to the intake of cruciferous vegetables and their unique anti-inflammatory compounds. (1)

So eat your cruciferous vegetables!  For maximum health benefit, it is best, to eat these veggies raw or only lightly steamed.  Chop them up and chew them well as the crushing of the molecules releases the beneficial phytochemicals.  Juicing cruciferous vegetables is strongly recommended and has been shown to markedly inhibit the growth of breast cancer with significant death of cancer cells occurring at higher concentrations of cruciferous juice (4)

Sources:

  1. http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=btnews&dbid=125
  2. http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/super-veggies-cruciferous-vegetables
  3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cruciferous_vegetables
  4. http://www.sound-diet.com/foods/unlimited/vegetables/248-cruciferous-vegetables-by-joel-fuhrman-md.html
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6 responses to “Eat Your Cruciferous Vegetables!

  1. Nice to know the origin of the name cruciferous. great information. I didn’t like the taste of raw broccoli or cabbage. may be I should try them lightly steamed from now on.

  2. findingourwaynow

    I love these (cruciferous) vegetables lightly steamed. It is good to know how beneficial they are for you, especially the potential cancer prevention part. To bad French pastries don’t have the same qualities … LOL
    🙂

  3. Thanks for the healthy tip. I was never a big veggie guy. But I have had many family member pass away from cancer that it is well worth it to try this.

    Angel recently posted It’s Not Always Easy Being Married To A Green

  4. Pingback: Another Super Food — Mushrooms! | Let's Get in Shape Together

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