We all know that adding more veggies to our diet is healthy. After all, all vegetables and even fruits (basically all natural plant foods) are rich in vitamins and minerals, along with gut healthy fiber. But for those who aren’t particularly fond of veggies, and have to make a conscious effort to add a few to their regular diet only for their health benefit, here is an all important question:
When it comes to your health, are all vegetables created equal? Or could some vegetables provide enhanced benefits as compared to others?
The Answer – Not Really! There was a time when doctors believed that tomatoes, carrots, beans and greens were the best vegetables to add to a healthy diet. They weren’t wrong – these are all high fiber veggies that do offer a lot of benefits. However, there is new research evidence that proves that if you are literally forcing yourself to eat more vegetables; you should opt for Cruciferous Vegetables.
These vegetables belong to the cabbage family, and include – Broccoli, Collard Greens, Watercress, Arugula, Cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, Cabbage, Kale, Bok Choy and Wasabi, to name just a few.
Cruciferous Vegetables: The New Super Foods
All cruciferous vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. In fact, they have a high content of beta carotene, zeaxanthin and lutein from the Carotenoids group, along with being rich in folate and Vitamins C, E and K. Additionally, these green vegetables also pack a lot of gut-friendly fiber and make for a healthy diet.
What makes Cruciferous vegetables one of the best foods is the fact that these contain contain glucosinolates and myrosinase. During the digestive process, this myrosinase to come into contact with glucosinolates, and hence initiates a chemical reaction that produces powerful anti-cancer compounds to release active compounds like nitriles, indoles, isothiocyanates and thiocyanates. Indole – 3 carbinol as well as sulforaphane have been associated with anti- cancer properties because these have the ability to:
– Protect against DNA damage,
– Have a holistic antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antiviral effect within the cells,
– And also make potential carcinogens inactive
Researchers have also found that cruciferous vegetables helped negate oxidative stress and fight against oxygen free radicals produced by the body. Reducing these helps cut down the risk of several cancers, including prostate cancer.
Why You Should Eat More Cruciferous Vegetables?
For those who aren’t particularly fond of vegetables, the mere fact that research recommends you add about 2-3 servings of cruciferous vegetables to your diet can seem daunting. After all, most of these vegetables have sulfur based chemicals (the very same beneficial glucosinolates) that gives these vegetables a slightly bitter taste. But one look at these numbers and you will agree with me that cruciferous vegetables are no doubt better for you as compared to other vegetables!
– 28 servings of vegetables per week decreased prostate cancer risk by 33%, but just 3 servings of cruciferous vegetables per week decreased prostate cancer risk by 41%.
– One or more servings of cabbage per week reduced risk of pancreatic cancer by 38%.
– One serving per day of cruciferous vegetables reduced the risk of breast cancer by over 50%.
In fact, cruciferous vegetables are very beneficial when it comes to preventing hormone based cancers – like breast cancer and ovarian cancer. This is because active compounds like indole-3-carbinol (abundant in broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage), can help the body excrete estrogen and other hormones. In fact, new research has shown additional anti-estrogenic effects of both indole-3-carbinol and sulforaphane (most abundant in broccoli); these ITCs blunt the growth-promoting effects of estrogen on breast and cervical cancer cells.
In a recent Chinese study, women who regularly ate one serving per day of cruciferous vegetables had a 50% reduced risk of breast cancer. A 17% decrease in breast cancer risk was found in a European study for consuming cruciferous vegetables at least once a week. Plus, breast cancer survivors who eat cruciferous vegetables regularly have lower risk of cancer recurrence – the more cruciferous vegetables they ate, the lower their risk.
There have also been several researches published to prove that cruciferous vegetables aren’t just beneficial for women, but also men because these are one of the best prostate foods. One such study was done at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, studying 1,230 men in the Seattle area. Funded by National Cancer Institute, this study was special because it studied not only men who were already diagnosed with prostate cancer, but also examined prostate cancer risks in random younger men. Since these men had low risk of cancer, the link between prostate health, lifestyle and diet could be studied more closely. Another study by Yale researchers that included 29,000 men for their Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial showed that men who ate just half a cup of cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli cut down their prostate cancer risks by half.
If you hate veggies and want to eat fewer veggies that offer more health benefits, its best to add more cruciferous vegetables to your diet. As you have seen above, just a few helpings of these veggies offer more health benefits than a bowl full of regular vegetables.
However, don’t forget: chopping, chewing, blending, or juicing cruciferous vegetables is necessary to produce the anti-cancer ITCs. They boost your immune system, help fight against cancers, and also pack a lot of mineral, vitamins and fiber. A sure Win-Win!
Now that you know which vegetables offer you the best of health, its time to find out What’s The Best Way To Eat Fruits as well.