The newest group of superfoods, cruciferous vegetables, are a large group of vegetables that allegedly have cancer-fighting properties according to recent studies. Packed with nutrients and low on calories, here is everything you need to know about cruciferous vegetables. If you want to learn more about cruciferous vegetable health benefits continue reading this article.
What Are Cruciferous Vegetables?
This classification is an informal name for a group of plants that come under the mustard family. It comes from the Latin word for a ‘cross bearing’ that is ‘Cruciferae’ because the blossoms of these plants have four petals that open up to resemble a cross.
Common Cruciferous Vegetables Are:
- Bok choy
- Brussels sprout
- Savoy cabbage
- Broccoli rabe
Cruciferous Vegetables Health Benefits
Cruciferous vegetables have a number of amazing benefits for everyone at every age. They help in dealing with many different health issues because of their nutrient-rich nature. Here is a breakdown of some of the nutrients in cruciferous vegetables and their benefits.
They contain a lot of fiber, which is very necessary for anyone looking to lose weight or control their appetite. The fiber in these cruciferous vegetables helps you keep fuller for longer.
Fiber is also known to lower cholesterol and blood pressure. It also helps to control the amount of sugar in your blood by decreasing the speed at which carbohydrates are absorbed into your bloodstream after you eat. This process lowers the risk of Type 2 diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease.
Cruciferous vegetables are rich in folate, which is an essential B vitamin that helps produce red blood cells and white blood cells in your body. Folates from cruciferous vegetables are particularly important during periods of growth like pregnancy, babyhood and adolescence.
Cruciferous vegetables are also a prime source of antioxidants like vitamin C which are helpful to your body in a number of ways. Vitamin C helps reduce your chances of getting cataracts and macular degeneration.
Vitamin C also helps produce collagen in the body which is essential for joint flexibility helping in reducing the risk of arthritis. Apart from that, collagen is also a major component in maintaining the health of your skin and hair, helping it stay beautiful.
Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and kale are great for increasing your calcium intake, which is very beneficial for your bone and teeth health. Calcium, as a mineral, also helps keep your nerve operations at optimal levels and is key for muscle movement and immune system stability.
Cruciferous vegetables that have high levels of calcium have also been thought to help in lowering blood pressure and help with cramps from PMS.
Cruciferous vegetables like cabbage contain beta-carotene which is essential for the growth and maintenance of your body's tissue matter. It is also a key ingredient in protecting your skin against the harmful effects of the sun. Beta-carotene is also converted into vitamin A in your body and is essential for many vital functions.
Glucosinolates are naturally occurring chemicals in cruciferous vegetables that give them their distinct aroma and flavor. These very chemicals have also been found to have anti cancerous effects in recent studies done on mice.
Scientists have seen that the compounds that form once these glucosinolates break down in the body, help protect the cells from DNA damage, have antibacterial properties, antiviral effects and protect against inactivating carcinogens too.
Amount Of Cruciferous Vegetables You Need
Cruciferous vegetables by themselves do not have a daily recommended intake, they are a part of the larger mix of suggested vegetables and leafy greens that make up a balanced diet.
The United States Department of Agriculture says that adult men need to have three cups of vegetables per day to meet their daily requirements while adult women need to have at least two and a half cups of vegetables to meet their daily requirements.
Out of the cruciferous vegetables, one cup of more hearty vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower, etc. count as one cup of the daily requirement.
However, with the more leafy kind of cruciferous vegetables like kale or arugula, you need to double the intake. That means two cups of these leafy vegetables count as one cup of the daily intake requirement.
It is not necessary for your entire vegetable intake to consist of cruciferous vegetables, but it is advised to add them to your preferred vegetable mix and consume them daily to harness their benefits to the maximum.
Side Effects Of Cruciferous Vegetables
Too much of a good thing can make it worse, is how the saying goes and it is true even in the case of something as innocent as cruciferous vegetables. Here are two common problems associated with eating cruciferous vegetables and how you can avoid them.
Some cruciferous vegetables can cause gastrointestinal issues like excessive gas, and indigestion when eaten raw or not fully cooked. Nutrients from vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and others, are known to cause these issues when broken down in the stomach and intestines.
Specifically, nutrients like folates, glucosinolates, vitamin K and fibers cause these issues. So it is advised that people with irritable bowel syndrome avoid consuming too many cruciferous vegetables at once and have them in moderation only.
Cruciferous vegetables can also exaggerate or be a factor in causing hyperthyroidism. There is a certain compound present in these vegetables called thiocyanates. These compounds create difficulties for your body concerning iodine absorption, which leads to a condition called hyperthyroidism.
This side effect is hard to achieve when eating the cruciferous vegetables by themselves, but it is easier to achieve with the new trend of smoothies and veggie bowls, which encourage large amounts of vegetable consumption in one sitting.
Cruciferous Vegetables Health Benefits: Summing Up
So now that you know everything there is to know about cruciferous vegetables, which ones will you be adding to your dinner table in the future? Some of them need more effort than others and there are many recipes to help you incorporate them into your vegan diet easily!