If you’ve never heard of the term ‘cruciferous vegetables’, then you’re certainly missing out. This powerhouse group of vegetables are super nutrient dense and are great at protecting our health. This blog post gives you a brief rundown on what cruciferous vegetables are, why they’re so special and what the health benefits can be!
Also known as the Brassica group of vegetables, cruciferous vegetables are widely known for their outstanding nutritiousness and are a great source of several carotenoids (including beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin) as well as vitamins (C, E and K), folate and minerals. Folate is particularly important for women who are pregnant, or trying for a baby while the dark, green and leafy members of the vegetable group provide calcium (collard greens being the most richest source).
“Cruciferous vegetables also contain a group of substances known as glucosinolates, which are sulfur-containing chemicals. These chemicals are responsible for the pungent aroma and bitter flavour of cruciferous vegetables.” states the National Cancer Institute (USA). These glucosinolates are broken down during food preparation, chewing and digestion and have been found to inhibit the development of cancer in several organs in rats and mice. Thus, it’s assumed that there is a potential in cruciferous vegetables assisting in the prevention of cancer due to their abilities in:
Furthermore, glucosinolates have been shown in recent studies to have beneficial effects in regulating functions in inflammation, stress response, metabolism, antioxidant activities as well as antimicrobial properties (reducing the possibility of infection). “Antimicrobials are on of the most successful forms of chemotherapy and have been used to save the human population from the threat of infectious diseases,” states Bhaskar Bas and Sanjukta Patra in their book ‘Nanostructures for Antimicrobial Therapy'.
I recommend eating plenty of cruciferous vegetables. Cruciferous vegetables are especially rich in di-indolylmethane (DIM). DIM helps mop up excess oestrogens, supporting the liver throughout the detox phase…Try and eat some of these vegetables at least once a day.”
So which vegetables are classified as brassica or cruciferous vegetables? The list includes:
We recommend grating these vegetables into meat dishes, adding them to sauces, serving dinner with a delicious slaw, or simply adding a serving of them to any meal.
More of their wonderful benefits:
If you are trying to improve the nutrient density of your diet, cruciferous vegetables need to be at the very top of your shopping list.” - Dr Libby
These vegetables are great however it is good to be aware of the potential downsides. They can be hard to digest if your body has difficulty with some vegetables. Brassica vegetables are high in FODMAP carbohydrates (FODMAP stands for fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides, and polyols) these are short chain carbohydrates which are poorly absorbed in our small intestine. This means that you may experience digestive symptoms of gas, bloating, constipation or diarrhoea. However, these can be prevented by slowly introducing cruciferous vegetables into your diet to increase your tolerance.
Here’s a challenge, try to add one serving of cruciferous vegetables into a meal each day over the next week. Get creative with how you incorporate them and be sure to share your favourite ways below in the comments section!
Vegetables - no matter what the category - are super important to our diet and nutritional health, whether you eat them raw as a snack, steamed with dinner or grated in a slaw you can rest assured that you’re making a wonderful choice.
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