Cruciferous vegetables health benefits are simply too good to ignore. They belong to the Brassica family, and broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, radish, rutabaga, turnip and arugula are all part of this group. Cruciferous vegetables are known for their superb nutritional content and phenomenal health benefits. As such, they definitely should be a part of any healthy diet. They contain, for example, compounds that have been studied for their ability to fight disease. Furthermore, cruciferous vegetables health benefits include pain relief, improved cardiovascular health, protection from harmful toxins and even cancer protection.
Cruciferous Vegetables Health Benefits
1. Protect Against Cancer
Cruficerous vegetables health benefits include anti-cancer compounds, including sulforaphane. Sulforaphane has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. A pre-clinical study found that combining sulforaphane, aspirin and curcumin was effective for the chemoprevention of pancreatic cancer. Sulforaphane has also been researched for its prevention abilities for stomach, bladder, breast, prostate, lung, colon and skin cancer. (1) For overall prevention of cancer and other serious diseases, be sure to incorporate plenty of organic cruciferous vegetables into your diet.
2. Fight Depression
Cruciferous vegetables health benefits include depression relief. A 2015 study found that sulforaphane possessed antidepressant and anti-anxiety activities. The anti-inflammatory properties of cruciferous vegetables also play a role in preventing depression. Inflammation has been linked to depression, among other conditions and diseases. By reducing inflammation in the brain and body, cruciferous vegetables can help fight off anxiety and depression. (2)
3. Provide Pain Relief
Thanks to the anti-inflammatory effects of sulforaphane, cruciferous vegetables health benefits include pain relief. In a 2000 study, fibromyalgia patients reported reduced pain sensitivity after taking a combination of ascorbigen and broccoli powder. Researchers found that broccoli sprout extract has the ability to block and relieve pain. Now, we don’t recommend rubbing cruciferous vegetables onto your body for pain relief, nor do we recommend soaking in a tub of broccoli. However, to help keep aches and pain at bay, it’s crucial that you include plenty of cruciferous vegetables in your every-day diet.
4. Promote Cardiovascular Health
Next on the list of cruciferous vegetables health benefits is the ability to improve cardiovascular health. For example, research has shown that sulforaphane works to reduce inflammation in the arterial walls, which helps to prevent obesity and relieve hypertension. Furthermore, studies suggest that sulforaphane may also be able to boost natural defense mechanisms in the body to protect the arteries from disease.
5. Provide Antioxidants
Cruciferous vegetables health benefits include the ability to provide the body with healing antioxidants. Hundreds of studies have shown the healing effects of these antioxidants, including the ability to reduce oxidative stress and promote healthy liver function. Additionally, they also work to reduce inflammation and protect the body from disease. Do your body a huge favor by adding cruciferous vegetables into your diet, and aim for two servings every day.
6. Protect the Body from Toxins
Thanks to sulforaphane, cruciferous health benefits include the ability to protect the body from harmful toxins. Studies have shown that sulforaphane helps the body eliminate pesticides and other toxins. Naturally, your liver knows how to detox on its own. However, poor diet as well as exposure to harmful pollutants and chemicals in the environment make it difficult for your body to do what it’s supposed to do. You can help address this issue by feeding your body the right kinds of foods. By promoting detoxification, cruciferous vegetables play a key role in healthy immune function.
7. Protect the Body from Diabetes
Cruciferous vegetables health benefits include the ability to prevent and treat diabetes. Studies have shown, for example, that sulforaphane is able to lower insulin resistance and decrease oxidative stress to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. (3) Furthermore, cruciferous vegetables contain a high amount of fiber, which slows the absorption of sugar in the blood stream. This prevents spikes and crashes in blood sugar.
Try to eat at least two kinds of cruciferous vegetables every day. Combined with other healthy food choices and an active lifestyle, doing so is an excellent road to preventing the development of diabetes.
8. Reduce Inflammation
Cruciferous vegetables health benefits include the ability to reduce inflammation. Sulforaphane has anti-inflammatory properties similar to those of turmeric or curcumin. Consuming cruciferous vegetables on a regular basis can help reduce inflammation in the body to help prevent illness and disease. This can be beneficial for helping to control such conditions as asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and ulcerative colitis.
Side Effects to Consider Regarding Cruciferous Vegetables
There is concern regarding the relationship between thyroid function and cruciferous vegetables. Raw vegetables release goitrogens in the intestines. This can increase the need for iodine and lead to damaging the thyroid gland. However, research indicates that it would take a great amount of cruciferous vegetables to cause any damage. Furthermore, it is only likely to be a problem if there is already an iodine deficiency in place. If you have a thyroid issue, avoid eating raw cruciferous vegetables. Instead, be sure to boil or steam them. Additionally, limit your intake to roughly two servings per day. So long as you follow this route, the undeniable benefits of cruciferous vegetables far outweigh the potential risks.
Furthermore, an consuming too many cruciferous vegetables can lead to painful gas and bloating. This may also occur if you suddenly add them into your diet. After a while, however, your body should get used to them, and the gas and bloating sensation will likely dissipate.
How to Enjoy Cruciferous Vegetables
You can steam your veggies, if that’s your preference. However, you can also eat them raw, so long as it doesn’t compromise a current health condition, such as low iodine. If you have a difficult time eating vegetables, consider mixing them into a smoothie with plenty of sweet, nutritious fruits. Or you can juice them together with fruits as well, although this method robs you of the beneficial fiber vegetables have to offer. You can also try adding powdered forms of vegetables into your smoothies, but the less processed a vegetable is, the better it is for your health. For steamed vegetables, try sprinkling them with your favorite seasoning, or serving them with apple cider vinegar.