Why Cruciferous Vegetables Are Good for You

cruciferous

What do broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, and bok choy have in common?

They’re all members of the cruciferous, or cabbage, family of vegetables. And they all contain phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals, and fiber that are important to your health (although some have more than others.)

Various components in cruciferous vegetables have been linked to lower cancer risks. Some have shown the ability to stop the growth of cancer cells for tumors in the breast, uterine lining (endometrium), lung, colon, liver, and cervix, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research. And studies that track the diets of people over time have found that diets high in cruciferous vegetables are linked to lower rates of prostate cancer.

Lab studies show that one of the phytochemicals found in cruciferous vegetables – sulforaphane – can stimulate enzymes in the body that detoxify carcinogens before they damage cells. Another way cruciferous vegetables may help to protect against cancer is by reducing oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is the overload of harmful molecules called oxygen-free radicals, which are generated by the body. Reducing these free radicals may reduce the risk of colon, lung, prostate, breast, and other cancers.

To maximize taste and nutrition, here are some tips for buying and cooking cruciferous vegetables:

• Don’t overcook cruciferous vegetables. They can produce a strong sulfur odor and become unappealing.
• You can buy several types of cruciferous vegetables ready-to-go in the frozen or fresh packaged sections of your supermarket, including broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts.
• No raw veggie platter is complete without dark green broccoli or snowy white cauliflower florets.
• Add raw broccoli or cauliflower florets to your green salad to give it a big nutrient boost.
• Add chopped cruciferous veggies to soups, stews, and casseroles.
• When buying fresh broccoli, look for firm florets with a purple, dark green, or bluish hue on the top. They’re likely to contain more beta-carotene and vitamin C than florets with lighter green tops. If it has yellow in it or is limp and bendable, the broccoli is old — don’t buy it.