Health Benefits of Cruciferous Vegetables: Cabbage, Kale, Broccoli and More

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Health benefits of cruciferous vegetables

A study of thousands of women in China found that eating cruciferous vegetables (such as cabbage, cauliflower, kohlrabi and broccoli) increases the survival rate of breast cancer: more of these women have recovered compared to women who did not consume these vegetables.

The findings suggest that breast cancer survivors who ate more cruciferous vegetables during the three years after the diagnosis reduced their risk of dying in 27% -62% compared to women who reported no consumption of these vegetables. Cruciferous vegetables are also important in preventing diabetes and slow down aging. This article will cover the health benefit of cruciferous vegetables and how to cook them.


Cruciferous vegetable family is the most common in the Mediterranean region, and includes about 3,000 species. Familiar vegetables in this family include cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kohlrabi and Brussels sprouts. Cruciferous vegetables contain antioxidants that protect body cells from damage caused by exposure to free radicals, which are considered a significant factor in aging, heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

Additionally, cruciferous vegetables contain large amounts of fiber that contribute to a healthy digestive system. Dietary fibers contribute to the feeling of fullness because they take up volume in the stomach. The fibers bind to the sugar and slow its absorption, thereby contributing to diabetes prevention, improve the digestive system, reduce cholesterol and prevent colon cancer. Increasing your fiber intake is also one of the 70 habits featured in my e-book 70 Powerful Habits For A Great Health which will guide you how to take positive steps to improve your wellness and overall health. However, much consumption of fiber of any kind, especially from this group, can cause gas and abdominal pain among those with a sensitive gut.

Cabbage

Cabbage can be prepared in various ways, and there are people who prepare juice from its leaves. Cabbage helps in curing internal and external ulcers, liver disorders and constipation, it reduces the chance of tumors, reduces chest congestion while breastfeeding and absorbs toxins. It can be used as a compress in cases of arthritis and to reduce fever.

Nutritional value: Cabbage contains calcium, potassium, iron, carotenoids (vitamin A), folic acid and B vitamins, mainly B3.

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Calories: about 16 calories per 100 grams.

Tips for eating:

It is recommended to soak the cabbage in salt water before use, as it tend to hide insects among its leaves.

To avoid unpleasant odor during cooking cabbage, add a slice of fresh bread to the pan.

To prevent loss of vitamins, add during the cooking lemon juice or vinegar to the pan.

Cauliflower

You can eat the florets, leaves and stems and combine them live or cooked in many dishes. Cauliflower is good for bleeding gums, and for that you may want to eat it fresh.

Nutritional value: Cauliflower contains iron, calcium, vitamin C, vitamin B, potassium and carotenoids.

Calories: 24 calories per 100 grams.

Tips for eating:

It is advisable to soak the cauliflower in salt water and not to cook it more than 7-10 minutes.

Don’t eat cauliflower with stains, because they indicate the presence of plant pests.

You can crumble it and put it in a salad to enrich its flavor and texture.

Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi is low in calories and rich in vitamins and minerals. It is recommended for weight loss and helps excretion of fluids from the body. Kohlrabi is effective in lowering high blood pressure, relieves pain caused by urinary tract infections, absorbs moisture and therefore suitable for situations of mucus and sinusitis.

Nutritional value: vitamins B1, B2, B6, folic acid, phosphorus, potassium, iron, calcium and copper.

Calories: 26 calories per 100 grams.

Tips for eating:

For a tasty snack between meals cut kohlrabi into strips with lemon and a little salt.

Use kohlrabi leaves in a salad. They contain carotenoids that contribute to vision and prevent cancer and aging.

It is advisable to choose a small kohlrabi (tennis ball size), as the larger are more tough and less sweet.

Brussels sprouts

Brussels sprouts is effective against bacteria and greatly contributes to balance and prevent diabetes. Brussels sprouts are also very effective for treating constipation and aid in lowering fever.

Nutritional value: Contains iron, potassium, carotenoids and vitamin C.

Calories: 52 calories per 100 grams.

Tips for eating:

To prolong its life don’t wash it before storing, but put it in a perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator.

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The smaller the sprouts are, the better they are considered.

Sprinkle coarse salt on a baking sheet, place on the Brussels sprouts and baked in the oven. The result is an excellent addition to a meaty meal or just as a tasty snack in front of the TV.

Broccoli

Broccoli contains 200% of the RDI of vitamin C, which helps iron and calcium absorption. However, a golden broccoli has lost its content of vitamin C. Broccoli is diuretic, good for eye infections, clears fever and toxins and helps prevent colon cancer.

Nutritional value: Broccoli contains iron and calcium in large amounts, folic acid, chlorophyll, potassium, vitamin B and vitamin C twice the amount found in citrus fruits.

Tips for eating:

It is recommended to eat the stems that are rich in minerals, although their cooking time is longer. You can eat fresh broccoli florets as well.

Most people consume only the florets, and they bin the stem and leaves without realizing that they are throwing away an abundance of health-promoting nutrients. Find out how to prepare and eat broccoli the right way and get the most out of your super vegetable.

The Right Way to Consume Broccoli

Don’t throw away the stems

The stem is a much better source of fiber than the florets and has a delicious sweet flavor. To include it in your meal, peel off the outer layer and slice it into small cubes. It’ll need to be cooked a bit longer than the florets, so add it to the pot a few minutes earlier.

Eat the leaves

Broccoli leaves are the plants overlooked gem. They contain the most beta-carotene of all parts of the plant. This natural bright pigment has been recognized as a substance that can reduce the risk of breast cancer in pre-menopausal women, and it also decreases the chances of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Beta-carotene is also one of the top 9 antioxidants for great health.

Leaves also abound in vitamin A, a fat-soluble vitamin, which plays an important role in the immune system function and protects your vision. Furthermore, they contain lots of vitamin C – another cancer fighter. 30 grams of leaves provides you with 43% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin C.

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Leaves can be used in a similar way to florets. Consider them just another leafy green vegetable to choose from. You can boil, sauté or grill them and enjoy their mild taste – but for the best cooking method, see below.

Steam it

It’s not just about what you eat. It’s also about how you prepare it. This is especially true for broccoli. By using the right method of preparation, you can make a big difference to your health and I’ve already mentioned it in my post about the best cooking methods to keep the vitamins in the food.

If you want to enjoy the full spectrum of this veggie’s benefits, you should steam it. A 2008 study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Chemistry showed that steaming broccoli is by far the best method of preparing it. It’s the only method that preserves, as well as increases its cancer-fighting potential. Boiling and frying, on the other hand, have been found the most damaging to the broccoli’s health effects.

A research presented in November 2013 at the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) compared between regular cooking, microwave cooking and steaming broccoli and found that steaming broccoli for up to five minutes is the best way to preserve the enzyme myrosinase.

The enzyme myrosinase, which is found in broccoli, is essential for the formation of sulforaphane. If you destroy this enzyme while over-cooking broccoli, you also damage the anti-cancer properties of this vegetable.

The same research found that cooking and heating broccoli in the microwave destroyed most of its beneficial enzymes.

If you do like your greens prepared in other ways and would like a break from steaming, not all is lost. A study from 2010 revealed that adding some spice to your broccoli enhances the anti-cancer properties. To get this effect, spice up your broccoli with mustard, horseradish, wasabi or chillies. So don’t shy away from all those green and red chilies, and enjoy a hot meal that will preserve broccoli’s goodness.

A quick word on which broccoli to buy

When selecting your broccoli, go for the plant with dark green, purplish-green or bluish-green florets. They contain more beta-carotene compared to their pale green or yellowish-green counterparts.

Broccoli sprouts and their health benefits

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Broccoli is a an excellent vegetable that has great detox properties for the blood. However, broccoli sprouts are even better for cleansing toxins from your bloodstream. Broccoli sprouts are a rich source of detoxifying compounds that can help to keep your liver and kidneys in good working order.

A study from China found that extracts from broccoli sprouts helped to lower the damaging effect of breathing in pollutants. The study found that the broccoli sprouts helped to reduce the risk of lung cancer in people who lived in polluted environments. The study concluded that broccoli sprouts can help to reverse the effect of airborne pollutants and detoxify the body. 

Broccoli is a true superfood that is also featured in my e-book about superfoods which is part of the Natural Health Revolution Program. This program will help you to achieve your health, nutrition or weight loss goals.

Kale

Kale hasn’t been much studied as other members in this family, but it is also very rich with nutritional components that contribute to its many health qualities.

Kale also has nicknames such as super-cabbage, and with decreasing temperature is starts to pop up on the shelves. It is rich in dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals. Kale is an excellent source of vitamin A (due to its carotenoids content), vitamin C, vitamin K and manganese. Is a very good source of copper, the amino acid tryptophan, calcium, vitamin B6 and potassium. It’s also a good source of iron, magnesium, vitamin E, vitamin B12, protein, vitamin B1, folic acid and vitamin B3.

Here are 3 excellent reasons to incorporate kale into your menu to reduce the risk of these 3 ailments:

Lowering cholesterol

Kale can greatly help lower cholesterol. When kale fibers undergo steaming, they bind to bile acids in the digestive system and help clearing them out. Since the building block of bile acids is cholesterol, the kale’s fiber binding helps in cholesterol removal. In this case the liver needs to produce new bile acids from the present cholesterol, and thus the cholesterol levels in the blood go down. Also fresh kale has the ability to lower cholesterol, but not as much as steamed kale.

Cancer prevention

Like most of the cruciferous family, kale was researched extensively in the context of cancer. It has been found that kale can reduce the risk of several types of cancer. The kale’s anti-cancer qualities relate to the contents of glucosinolates, carotenoids and flavonoids contents. These components are converted in the body to cancer prevention components.

Researchers were able to demonstrate an increase in the levels of carotenoids, lutein and beta-carotene in the blood following kale consumption. These substances are powerful antioxidants and can therefore help not only to reduce the risk of cancer but also for many other chronic ailments, such as atherosclerosis and more. Have a look also at the top 14 foods that protect against cancer development.

Reducing inflammation

Kale contains omega-3 alpha linolenic acid (ALA), which is thought to have anti-inflammatory properties, though there is still no clear evidence of it. It also contains vitamin K (almost twice compared to the rest of the other cruciferous members) that also helps in regulating inflammatory processes in the body. In addition, there have been identified more than 45 different flavonoids in kale that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Find here more information about how to reduce inflammation in your body with these foods.

How to eat kale?

Quick cooking preserves kale’s nutrients, texture, color, and flavor. Rinse kale, chop it finely to ensure rapid cooking, and add it soups, stews, stir-fries, salads, egg dishes, or casseroles. You can steam kale for 5 minutes to make it more tender or eat it raw. You can also splash on the kale a little bit of lemon to enhance its health-promoting qualities.

Who should limit kale consumption?

Kale contains oxalates. These components can crystallize and cause health problems, and therefore it is not suitable for people who suffer from kidney problems. Kale is also often referred to (as well as the rest of the family) as goitrogenic food which means food that causes enlargement of the thyroid gland. So if you have thyroid issues, you may want to limit kale consumption.

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2 Responses to Health Benefits of Cruciferous Vegetables: Cabbage, Kale, Broccoli and More

  1. ee says:

    Very helpful tips thanks a lot… More power!

  2. robert laberge says:

    thanks for the help very informative.

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