Talking to my clients, I frequently find that cruciferous vegetables do not belong to most peoples favorite foods. Consequently, their diets are often lacking those essential nutrients. Cruciferous vegetable family are named for their cross-shaped (crucifer) flower petals. Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, bok choy, turnip, rutabaga, mustard greens, water cress, kohlrabi, and radishes.
Research links a diet that is rich in cruciferous vegetables (about 1 serving per day) with a number of health benefits. Cruciferous vegetables, if eaten soon after they are harvested are nutritional power houses. Besides vitamins, minerals and fiber, they are loaded with powerful phytonutrients that promote healthy cells and tissues, particularly of the breast, prostate, colon, uterus, ovaries and digestive tract. Cruciferous vegetables also contain a kind of phytochemical known as isothiocyanates, which stimulate our bodies to break down potential carcinogens (cancer causing agents). Finally, cruciferous vegetables contain antioxidants, particularly beta carotene and the compound sulforaphane
Research of this family of vegetables indicates that they may provide protection against certain cancers. Several laboratory studies have suggested that cruciferous vegetables help regulate a complex system of bodily enzymes that defend against cancer. Cruciferous compounds have for instance shown the ability to stop the growth of cancer cells in various cells and tissues, including tumors of the breast, endometrium, lung, colon, liver, colon and cervix.
Certain cruciferous compounds are linked to healthy, protective hormonal responses. For example, a nutrient group called Indole Carbinols have been shown to promote a stable estrogen balance, thus they support healthy breast tissues. A nutrient group called Chalcones is thought to protect prostate cells and tissues.
Based on a large number of studies, researchers believe that cruciferous compounds contain certain antioxidants that help the body neutralize and flush out environmental toxins, thus promoting normal cellular growth in tissues and organs. Those compounds are thought to protect the DNA, protein and lipids, and promote healthy cholesterol levels, which gives them an important role in cardiovascular health.
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