Cauliflower or Broccoli: What’s the Best Cruciferous Vegetable to Eat?
Eat more vegetables the experts keep saying. But, which vegetables are the best to eat? Cauliflower, broccoli, and other cruciferous vegetables might just be the most impressive vegetables you could eat. Discover why these vegetables are trending on social media.
Why You Should Eat More Vegetables
An increasing body of scientific evidence says, if you eat more vegetables you could delay or prevent chronic diseases, including cardiovascular, metabolic, neurological, and musculoskeletal conditions. As well, evidence has linked a diet rich in vegetables and fruits with lower rates of certain cancers. In particular, studies suggest you should eat more cruciferous vegetables – they are your exclusive source of some of the most impressive, health-protective plant compounds.
More than Broccoli and Cauliflower
Did you know that cruciferous vegetables are lumped in with leafy greens which by many are considered the cream of the crop in the world of vegetables? Let’s discover which vegetables are cruciferous and why they are so healthy.
What’s a Cruciferous Vegetable?
Cauliflower and broccoli are likely the most well-known vegetables in the cruciferous family, but did you know these others are also members?
• Brussels sprouts
• Bok Choy
• Chinese Cabbage
• Collard Greens
Why are Cruciferous Vegetables Healthy for You?
Worldwide popularity of cruciferous vegetables is growing. Cauliflower pizza crust and shredded broccoli salads can be found everywhere from traditional grocery store aisles and chain restaurants to the most popular social media feeds.
While well-known celebrity nutrients (fiber, vitamins, and minerals) make cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower a healthy choice, the true star of the show knows how to make a real stink: sulfur-containing compounds.
16 Things in Cruciferous Vegetables That are Healthy for You
• Vitamin C (>50mg/100mg)
• Beta-Carotene (0.5-1.0mg/100mg)
• Alpha-Tocopherol (0.47mg/100g)
• Calcium & Magnesium
• Phosphorus, Sodium, & Potassium
• Iron, Selenium, Copper, Manganese, & Zinc
• Flavonoids & Anthocyanins
• Sulphur-containing Compounds
Do Cruciferous Vegetables Increase Inflammation?
No, cruciferous vegetables may be the best anti-inflammatory vegetables you can eat, according to scientists. Eating cruciferous vegetables lowered inflammation better than other vegetables in a study of over 1000 women. Not yet ready to eat more cruciferous vegetables? Read this – eating more cruciferous vegetables resulted in a 25% reduction in a marker of inflammation in women.
Do Cruciferous Vegetables Help with Cancer Prevention?
Cruciferous vegetables are different than any other vegetables – they contain more than 120 sulfur-containing compounds called glucosinolates. You can probably taste their bitter flavour when you eat them.
Glucosinolates are key allies to your body that are exclusively found in cruciferous vegetables. They have antioxidant abilities and are rechargeable (just like superoxide dismutase). According to studies, glucosinolates are capable of stressing-out cancer cells, ultimately may help to destroy cancer cells in the body.
When you chew cruciferous vegetables, it injures the cells in the plant releasing an enzyme that converts the sulfur-containing compounds (called glycosinolates) into a number of health-promoting compounds, called isothiocyanates.
What are Isothiocyanates?
You want isothiocyanates, say researchers! These compounds interact with phase-I and -II enzymes to detoxify carcinogens. According to the National Cancer Institute, indoles and isothiocyanates in cruciferous vegetables inhibit the development of cancer in several organs of rats and mice. However, studies in humans have shown mixed results.
Does Broccoli Get Rid of Estrogen?
If you eat broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables some sulfur-containing compounds get transformed in your digestive tract into compounds that can help decrease total estrogens in circulation in a variety of ways, including indole-3-carbinol.
What is Indole-3-carbinol (I3C)?
A type of isothiocyanate, I3C has the potential to decrease total oestrogens in circulation by hindering an enzyme that makes estrogen in fat and other parts of the body.
What is Di-indolylmethane (DIM)
In the digestive tract, I3C is converted into DIM. (In technical terms, it is the biologically active form of I3C.) DIM may help balance estrogen levels in the body. More research in human clinical trials is needed; however, preliminary research suggests DIM may:
– activate enzymes involved in the elimination of hormones, toxins, and carcinogens
– inhibit an enzyme involved in some estrogen formation
– stimulate the production of the more beneficial estrogen (2-hydroxyestrone)
– reduce the effects of the stronger form of estrogen, called 16 alpha-hydroxyestrone
– reduce inflammation
– relieve breast pain from PMS
– relieve from some menopause symptoms
What is Calcium-D-Glucarate?
Sometimes grouped with I3C or DIM as this antioxidant plays a role alongside them in a detoxification pathway. Calcium-D-Glucarate inhibits an enzyme made by some colon microbes that are associated with an increased risk of various cancers, according to research.
How to Eat the Healthiest Broccoli, Cauliflower, and Cruciferous Vegetables
1. Try not to heat your cruciferous vegetables whenever possible – heat can inactivate a key enzyme that helps create healthful compounds.
2. Store broccoli, cauliflower, and other cruciferous vegetables in a controlled environment (refrigerator) to prevent the breakdown of phytosterols and other important nutrients.
3. Eat them often. Explore new ways to incorporate cruciferous vegetables into your meals, from shredded cabbage in your lunch to cauliflower in your smoothie.
LEARN HOW TO COOK HEALTHIER
The Canadian School of Natural Nutrition offers Holistic Culinary Workshops.
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