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What Adding Cruciferous Veggies To Your Diet Can Do For You

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What Adding Cruciferous Veggies To Your Diet Can Do For You

What comes to mind when you hear cruciferous vegetables? Most likely broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and kale. Others cruciferous vegetables that aren’t as common include: arugula, bok choy, Chinese cabbage, collard greens, daikon radish, horseradish, kohlrabi, land cress, mustard greens, radish, rutabaga, shepherd’s purse, turnip and watercress.

Cruciferous vegetables are included and consumed as part of cuisines all around the world. They are superstars in terms of nutrients that they provide which includes fiber, vitamin A, K, C, and B-vitamins.

Another benefit of these veggies is their anti-inflammatory effects. Inflammation is a part of a cycle that promotes disease. The findings of a recent study of more than 1,000 Chinese women who reported eating the most cruciferous vegetables (1 ½ cups per day) had substantially less inflammation than those who ate the fewest. This is just one study but has a powerful message—eating your vegetables has an important health effect. Phytochemicals includes a wide variety of compounds made by plants that help human health. The benefit is closely linked to the phytochemical found in cruciferous vegetables, called glucosinolates. Glucosinolates are converted to indoles and isothiocyanates which have anti-cancer, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. By consuming all parts of the plant group (including flowers, leaves, stems, stalks, roots and seeds), the cruciferous vegetables incorporate the wide range of nutrients and provide full benefit.

Here are some tips for enjoying cruciferous vegetables:

  • Add raw broccoli or cauliflower florets to your green or pasta salad.
  • Make sure your veggie plate appetizer includes a lot of color – dark green, snowy white, bright red.
  • Buy several types of cruciferous vegetables in the frozen or fresh packaged sections of the grocery store.
  • Don’t overcook cruciferous vegetables.  They are better raw or lightly steamed.  Overcooking can produce the strong sulfur smell that many people find unappealing.  
  • Combine a green and orange cruciferous veggie like:  broccoli and sweet potato, brussels sprouts and carrots, or cauliflower and carrots. 
  • Add chopped veggies to sauces, stews, soups, and casseroles.
  • Brussels sprouts marinated in Italian or Balsamic dressing cooked on the grill is great.
  • Add kale to a crisp salad.
  • Hummus served with a variety of cruciferous vegetables is a refreshing snack.

Cruciferous vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and fiber. They are touted as the healthiest vegetables we can eat. Try to enjoy a good variety of colorful fruits and vegetables by filling half your plate at lunch and dinner. All forms of vegetables count so enjoy them raw, cooked or lightly steamed in a variety of ways to obtain all the nutrients packed in a serving. Remember to go for color. The fiber helps you to feel full and in turn save calories if weight loss is your goal. Because vegetables may reduce the risk of many diseases, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends eating more of a volume of vegetables than any other food group. Be creative and enjoy!     
Article provided by Colleen Loveland, MS, RDN, LD, CDE, Cooper Clinic