What are Cruciferous vegetables anyway?  

The word Cruciferae is Latin for ‘cross bearing’ because the 4 petals resemble a cross. While these veggies grow in all different colors, shapes and sizes, they share several nutritional benefits.  Most cruciferous vegetables are rich in nutrients including: vitamins, minerals, flavonoids and carotenoids.  

Dark green cruciferous veggies also are a source of vitamins A and C and contain phytonutrients — plant-based compounds that may help to lower inflammation and reduce the risk of developing cancer. Cruciferous vegetables also are rich in fiber and low in calories, a combination that will help you feel full and satisfied without overeating. 

Many vegetables are in this group including arugula, bok choy, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, chard, collard greens, collards, kale, mustard greens, radishes, rutabagas, turnips and watercress. 

It doesn’t take much to reap the benefits. Adults need at least 2½ cups of vegetables a day. One cup of raw and cooked veggies, such as broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts, is equivalent to a 1-cup vegetable serving. Two cups of raw leafy vegetables, such as kale and bok choy, are the equivalent of a 1-cup vegetable serving. 

Researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center examined the food intake of 1,005 healthy middle aged women. The findings showed that participants who reported eating the most cruciferous vegetables (1.5 cups per day) had substantially less inflammation than those who ate the fewest. The women who consumed the most cruciferous vegetables had, on average, 13%-25% lower levels of three (3) important inflammatory markers in their blood. 

As well as lowering inflammation, this group of vegetables contains two cancer fighting compounds: sulforaphane and DIM. These compounds work in a unique way to limit the cancer cells to grow, divide, and spread and they cause cancer cells to die off.  

Sulforaphane is unstable and actually not found in cruciferous vegetables but is produced during the eating of RAW vegetables, then quickly absorbed into the gut. Therefore, these vegetables need to be eaten raw rather than cooked for best benefit.  

Don’t like your vegetables? Thanks to research at John Hopkins University School of Medicine, a tablet has been invented containing the precursor to sulforaphane which is glucoraphanin and myrosinase.  This dual layered tablet keeps the ingredients separate, just like nature does, until it reaches the small intestine.   

When adding any supplement, ALWAYS get one that is guaranteed good quality. Read the labels for ‘USDA certified’ or testing by third party to guarantee quality.  Expect to pay a little more for quality.  I recommend Life Extension Optimized Broccoli and Cruciferous Blend.   

Dr. Julie Wood is a Nurse Practitioner and has been serving the Middle Tennessee area for more than 30 years, specializing in adults with obesity, prediabetes and diabetes. Office is located at 401 First Avenue, Mt. Pleasant, TN and statewide with telehealth. Dr. Wood can be reached at 931-325-5560, www.diabetesmgtassociates.com, info@diabetesmgtassociates.com.   

Articles are meant to be informative and should never replace the advice of your health care provider.