What are Cruciferous Vegetables?Cruciferous vegetables, or "crucifers", belong to the Crucifae family. Their four-flowered petals resemble a crucifix, hence the name cruciferous. They are packed with many vitamins, minerals, and other compounds that can help reduce your risk of many health conditions, including cancer.
There are many types of cruciferous vegetables. The most common varieties are bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, mustard greens, rhutabaga, and watercress.
How Do Cruciferous Vegetables Fight Cancer?Cruciferous vegetables are packed with phytochemicals, which are chemicals and substances found in plants. Notably, crucifers contain isothiocyanates, chemical compounds that combat carcinogens by inhibiting their activity, repairing damage made by them, and also speeding up apoptosis (cell death). Research is underway that studies isothiocyanates as chemopreventative agents for certain cancer types. Other compounds found in cruciferous veggies, such as indoles and crambene, also help by detoxifying enzymes and preventing cell damage.
Incorporating Cruciferous Vegetables Into Your DietCruciferous vegetables pack more of anti-cancer punch when eaten raw or lightly steamed. Cooking can cause veggies to lose some of their vitamins, minerals, and other nutritional compounds. If you have an aversion to eating raw vegetables, don't think you have to miss out on all those cancer-fighting properties! These types of vegetables are delicious in casseroles, soups, and other recipes. While they may lose some of their nutritional value during the cooking process, you can still reap the health benefits by eating them cooked.
Check out these delicious recipes containing cruciferous vegetables:
- Lemon and Garlic Broccoli
- Broccoli Soup
- Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts
- Brussels Sprouts Pasta
- Mashed Cauliflower
- Cauliflower Gratin
- Chicken, Kale and White Bean Soup
- Kale Pesto
- Bok Choy and Shiitake Mushroom Stir Fry Recipe
- Shrimp with Bok Choy Stir Fry
- Southern Style Collard Greens
- Garlic Collard Greens
Keck AS, Finley JW. Cruciferous vegetables: cancer protective mechanisms of glucosinolate hydrolysis products and selenium. Integr Cancer Ther 2004; 3: 5–12.