Cruciferous Vegetables: Definition, Health Benefits, Effects And More

Cruciferous Vegetables Definition

Cruciferous vegetables are a type of vegetables that reside in the family of plants known as Brassica.

These vegetable get their name from the cross-like flower shape of the plant.

Cruciferous vegetables are grown all over the world, and many of these types of vegetables are mass produced due to their popularity.

Some of the more well-known vegetables in the cruciferous family are:

Broccoli
Brussels sprouts
Cabbage (red or green)
Cauliflower
Collard greens
Kale
Kohirabi
Mustard
Rutabaga
Turnips
Turnip greens
Bok choy
Chinese cabbage (Napa)

Other lesser-known vegetables in the cruciferous family are:

Arugula
Radish sprouts
Broccoli sprouts
Horseradish
Broccoli rabe
Broccoflower
Broccolini
Wasabi
Radish
Watercress

Cruciferous Vegetables Health Benefits

Cruciferous Vegetables Health Benefits

When looking at cruciferous vegetables from a nutritional standpoint, you really could not find a healthier vegetable to consume.

Many dietitians and health specialist suggest that we as humans consume several servings of this vegetable per week.

Cruciferous vegetables contain many helpful and essential antioxidants, particularly beta carotene, for us humans.

These vegetables also offer an excellent source of fiber and other essential vitamins and minerals.

However, cruciferous vegetables do have one drawback if not cooked or prepared properly.

Large amount of raw cruciferous vegetables can lead to goiter.

These raw vegetables contain goitrogens, which lead to difficulties in hormone production in the thyroid gland.

This, however, can be avoided by one simple act, steaming your cruciferous vegetables.

READ: My experience with a bamboo steamer

We do not steam our broccoli to enhance its flavor, but to reduce the number of harmful goiter-causing substances found in them.

Eating Cruciferous Vegetables Can Prevent Cancer

Eating Cruciferous Vegetables Can Prevent Cancer

So what is so special about cruciferous vegetables that they earn titles like super veggies?

Well, they are high in vitamins, fiber and disease-fighting phytochemicals.

They are the whole packaged deal!

There has been massive research in the prevention of cancer, including the diet.

They know that many risks of cancer are prevented by high intake of some vitamins, like vitamin C, which helps reduce cancer of the mouth, larynx and esophagus.

They also know that the risk of lung cancer and colorectal cancer is reduced with the inclusion of broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower.[1]

Despite the goiter causing chemicals, the benefits of eating cruciferous vegetables far outweigh this single flaw in the plants.

In recent studies, it has been found that this family of vegetables may provide protection from a multitude of different cancers and cancer causing agents.

These vegetables contain an element that alters the metabolism of estrogen in females, leading to the prevention of many estrogen driven cancers in women.

However, these vegetables also contain a chemical that stimulates our bodies to fight off and break down many carcinogens, or cancer causing agents.

So, mommy and daddy knew best all along.

And most kids love broccoli and this is an ideal time to start them on other cruciferous vegetables.

We know that some foods are an acquired taste, so start early with your kids.

Keep introducing new vegetables from the list into their diets and they will thank you later in life.

READ: How To Get Kids To Eat Vegetables

Although vegetable may not be the best tasting, they are certainly extremely healthy.

Researchers observed that people who ate vegetables from the cruciferous family showed a lower incidence of certain cancers.[2]

They then went to work finding out what the uniqueness was with these vegetables and how they worked.

What they came up with was more than they expected.

The cruciferous family is rich in glucosinolates, sulfer-containg compounds.

Sulforaphane, a component of the sulfur-containing compounds, was shown to interfere with the cancer process at many levels of development.

It showed not only did it fight cancer cells, it also attacked benign cells that were hyperplastic (showing early signs of abnormality), while not affecting healthy cells.

Cancers of the esophagus, pancreas, prostate, breast, and lungs benefited greatly with the realization of the importance of adding cruciferous vegetables to a diet, along with medication in the treatment of these diseases.

Histone deacetylase (HDAC) enzymes are known for helping cancer cells develop in the body.

Now the researchers know that sulforaphane protects against the development of these enzymes.

With this information, it shows that sulforaphane is a potentially strong cancer treatment by stopping the action of HDAC enzymes and one-half of the cancer process.

The highest amount of sulforaphane is found in vegetables that are stored only for a short period and chewing them raw.

You can lightly steam them or if you prefer, include them in soups and stews.

Although the cooking of these vegetables does break down the myrosinase enzyme needed to help convert the sulforaphane to a usable form, the bacteria in the gut will help it form and be readily absorbed in the body.

There are no official recommendations for the amount of cruciferous vegetables that should be consumed each day, but any amount that you can increase them is better than none.

What Are the Effects of Raw Cruciferous Veggies

Raw Cruciferous Veggies

Although cruciferous vegetables are very good for our health and they have been proven to prevent a wide range of cancers, it seems that they can also turn bad, if they are eaten raw.

Throughout time, scientists have said that raw vegetables are even better than cooked ones, as when they are raw, they have the most of their vitamins and proteins.

However, it seems that raw cruciferous veggies are not as good as people thought until now.

For people who suffer with hypothyroidism, cruciferous veggies consumed raw are very bad, especially if those people are also on a thyroid hormone replacement treatments.

If you know that you are taking such medicine, you should most definitely now eat raw cruciferous vegetables, as they can stop the body from absorbing the medicine.

If you do, you may end up wondering why in the world you feel so bad if you are sure to take your medication in time and as prescribed.

Cruciferous vegetables are very good for our health and people should most definitely include them in their diets.

However, for people who suffer with hypothyroidism, things are less simple.

Still, if you like your cruciferous veggies, you should think about not eating them raw.

Try to cook them. Boil them and eat them like that.

Through the boiling process, some of the enzymes contained by these vegetables are lost and that should protect the body of a person who suffers with hypothyroidism from blocking when it comes to absorbing the medicine they are on.

The idea thing is to cook your veggies, if you know you have health problems like the one mentioned above.

If not, a simple wash of the veggie may be enough!

What To Do With Cruciferous Vegetables

What To Do With Cruciferous Vegetables

You know by now how important it is to eat cruciferous vegetables, like cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and other such things.

They are not only very good for your diet, but they can also do wonders when it comes to helping people preventing different types of cancers.

Although for some people eating cruciferous vegetables may sound a bit disgusting, the most important thing they should know is that these types of vegetables have a great deal of nutrients and antioxidants.

And they also have high quantities of vitamins, minerals and fibers, which are vital for a leading a healthy life.

Aside of the fact that these veggies have so many good things which help your body combat different types of diseases.

They are also very easy to incorporate in your daily diet.

You can do a great deal of dishes and start enjoying your cruciferous veggies more than ever.

The trick is to make the recipes that suit your taste the best.

Once you start combining the vegetables with your favorite ingredients, nothing will ever make you renounce them.

For instance, you can include your veggies in your breakfast – you can either make a delicious dish called scrabbled greens, where you can use some chopped kale or baby bok choy.

Or you can have a great breakfast with some nice veggie parmesan eggs.

The only thing is to make the dishes after you taste and you’ll enjoy them greatly, for sure.

Other great things you can do out of these delicious cruciferous veggies are soups.

There is such a wide variety of combination you can use, that you will not even need to make soups that you will not like.

As said before, all you have to do is to combine the veggies that you like best and the ingredients you enjoy most and you will get some delicious and very healthy dishes.

Most people are a bit reticent when it comes to cruciferous vegetables, as they seem less tasty than others, but by comparison, they are healthier and if combined with the proper ingredients, they also taste amazing

Cruciferous Vegetables : Broccoli

Broccoli

The veggies from the cruciferous family are not so appealing to people, because they are usually green and do not look very tasty.

However, they are highly nutritious and very healthy and they can even prevent cancer, if eaten the right way.

Among these vegetable there’s the plant called broccoli.

The world broccoli come from the Italian word broccolo and translated, it means the “head of a cabbage”.

This is because the only part used from the broccoli is the upper part, which looks very much like a cabbage.

The head of the plant is usually green and it looks as if it were a tree, with several branches.

In its form, broccoli resembles very much the cauliflower, another cruciferous vegetable.

The history dates the appearance of the broccoli plant about 2,000 years ago, somewhere in Europe and this particular vegetable is famous among the Italian people, who eat it very often.

Although the plant was brought to the United States by the first Italian immigrants, it has not become famous until the late 1920s, when people discovered how good the plant was.

Although most prefer broccoli when it is steamed or boiled, there are also some people who eat it raw.

It may not be as delicious when eaten raw, but it is for sure healthier, as through boiling the plant loses some of its most important vitamins and fibers.

What most people do not know about this particular vegetable is that it contains high amounts of vitamin C, fibers and it also has some anti-cancer properties.

Furthermore, the plant also contains some chemicals which help the DNA repair itself faster and easier.

Plus, it seems that if you boil broccoli for about 3 or 4 minutes, its abilities to prevent cancer grow, as the anti-cancer compounds contained by the vegetable are more active if the plant is boiled for a little while.

Cruciferous Vegetables : Cabbage

Cabbage

The presentation of the cruciferous vegetables continues with another plant of the family – cabbage.

Cabbage is probably one of the most famous vegetables in this particular family and people all over the world have tried at least once eating it.

Whether you combine it with other ingredients or eat it raw, cabbage is always good and nutritious.

Plus, it does not look as weird as other brothers and sisters in its family.

Cabbage comes from the Mediterranean region, where it was cultivated along the shores.

The first records of this plant date as back the ancient Romans and Greeks, who were praising this particular vegetable for its medicinal properties.

In what concerns the edible parts of a cabbage, you probably all know that the only part that can be eaten is consisted by the leaves.

This cabbage head, as it is called, can be consumed in different ways.

You can either cook it or eat it raw, add it to salads, or simply eat it like it is.

However, cabbage is usually used in soups and stews.

These are two of the most popular foods which are using cabbage as the main ingredient.

As said before, cruciferous vegetables are fairly well known for their medicinal purposes.

For instance, the cabbage has lots of vitamin C, glutamine and a sort of an amino acid, which is used for anti-inflammatory purposes.

As with broccoli, cabbage also has that indole-3-carbinol, the chemical which helps the human DNA regenerate faster.