When your mother made you sit down at the table and eat your broccoli, she was really doing you a favor, even though you probably didn’t appreciate it when you were a kid! Broccoli – as well as vegetables like collard greens, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and cabbage – are all members of the cruciferous vegetable family. And while they seem to be vegetables that are particularly unpopular with many children, they should definitely be consumed at all ages for their amazing health benefits.
What Crucifers Do For Your Body ?
As far back as the Roman times, those with medical knowledge like the statesman Cato recommended various crucifers such as cabbage as treatment for a variety of conditions. One of the most important health benefits that these vegetables can bring to the table (literally!) is their ability to help fight cancer. Crucifers have been studied and found to be effective at treatments for cancer of the digestive tract, reproductive system and lungs.
If the vegetables listed above do not sound appealing, there are many others in this family, so you can be sure to find at least a few that you enjoy in your diet! Other cruciferous vegetables include leafy vegetables like bok choy, kale, mustard greens, and watercress as well as root vegetables like radishes, turnips, rutabagas, and daikon. If some of these are unfamiliar and you would like to know more about how to cook them, there are is a wealth of cooking information on the Internet now for even the most exotic-sounding of vegetables!
Why Cruciferous Vegetables are so Healthy ?
The wealth of positive benefits your body receives from consuming cruciferous vegetables stems from the fact that they contain an array of phytochemicals, plant-based compounds known for their healing properties. One recent University of Ohio study of broccoli, for instance, found that its sprouts contain compounds called glucosinolates; when they break down in the human digestive tract, they turn into chemicals called isothiocyanates, which are potent cancer inhibitors.
Other compounds contained by these vegetables include indole-3-carbinol, which is also a glucosinolate and has been proven very effective in treatment of breast cancer. This is because it inhibits the effects of an estrogen metabolite which can promote the spread of cancer cells to other parts of the body. Sulforaphane is another cruciferous compound which has been shown to promote health by strengthening the liver and allowing it to rid the body of free radicals and carcinogens. Numerous studies have shown that regular consumption of crucifers is linked to lower rates of colorectal, prostate and bladder cancer.
The great thing about crucifers is that it is easy to add them to your everyday diet. They are great ingredients for salads, soups, casseroles, pasta dishes and crockpot dinners. And the health benefits you reap from such consumption are enormous.
More by Christine . S