We all know that veggies should be an integral part of any diet, but are they all created equal? What about cruciferous vegetables?
What Are Cruciferous Vegetables?
Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, bok choy, arugula, Brussels sprouts, collards, watercress, and radishes are all examples of cruciferous vegetables. Fun fact: The term “cruciferous” refers to members of the mustard family who have four petals that resemble a cross. It derives from the Latin Cruciferae, which means “cross-bearing.”
Many people enjoy cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale, and wasabi. There are a few reasons we’re drawn to this particular group of vegetables — they’re versatile and have health benefits, to begin with.
Benefits Of Cruciferous Vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables have recently gained popularity as a result of their cancer-fighting abilities. This broad collection of plants is diverse, with each offering distinct flavors.
1. They May Help You Lose Weight
Low in calories, cruciferous veggies are high in folate, vitamins C, E, and K, as well as fiber. Fiber is a crucial component to have if you want to lose weight because it keeps you satiated for longer. So incorporating a healthy amount of cruciferous veggies into your daily diet may help you lose a few extra pounds. However, the overall calories you are consuming have a highly decisive role in weight loss.
2. They May Help Reduce Inflammation
Phytonutrients, which are plant-based substances that may help lower inflammation and reduce the risk of cancer, are abundant in cruciferous vegetables. So cruciferous vegetables are very likely to help you reduce inflammatory symptoms.
3. They May Help Fight Cancer
Cruciferous vegetables also contain glucosinolates. These compounds have been demonstrated to have anti-cancer properties in addition to being responsible for the scent and flavor of these plants. Studies in rats and mice have shown that indoles and isothiocyanates, the molecules formed when glucosinolates are broken down, protect cells from DNA damage, inactivate carcinogens, and have antibacterial and antiviral properties, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Please understand that the link between cruciferous vegetable consumption and a lower risk of cancer in humans is not very clear at the moment, so further studies are required. Prostate, colorectal, lung, and breast cancers have all been researched, and the majority of them show little to no link.
However, we can’t ignore the fact that several studies have found that bioactive components in cruciferous vegetables have positive effects on biomarkers of cancer-related processes in some persons.
4. They May Improve Heart Health
An increasing amount of evidence suggests that consuming cruciferous vegetables lowers the risk of heart disease. In a January 2018 study published in Molecules, regular consumption of these veggies was connected to decreased total and HDL cholesterol levels.
In fact, for a review published in the Journal of Royal Society of Medicine Cardiovascular Diseases in January 2016, researchers combined the data of eight studies looking at the impact of cruciferous and leafy green vegetables on heart disease. They discovered that those who ate the most cruciferous veggies had a 16 percent lower risk of heart disease than those who ate them less frequently.
5. They May Help Control Blood Sugar
Cruciferous vegetables, like all vegetables, include dietary fiber, which, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, serves to slow digestion and the rate at which we absorb sugar from the foods we eat.
According to a meta-analysis published in the Journal of Diabetes Investigation in January 2016, glucosinolates and other chemicals found in this family of vegetables have been associated with improved blood sugar control.
According to a study published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition in April 2012, cruciferous vegetables may aid with blood sugar control by reducing insulin resistance. In persons with type 2 diabetes, researchers looked at the effects of varying quantities of broccoli sprouts powder. The participants were given either 10 grams (2.4 teaspoons), 5 grams (1.2 teaspoons), or a placebo.
After four weeks, the group that took 10 grams of broccoli sprouts powder saw a significant reduction in insulin levels and HOMA-IR, or homeostatic model assessment of insulin resistance, a measurement used to determine diabetes risk.
Cruciferous Vegetables Nutrition
Cruciferous vegetables are high in vitamins and minerals, as well as omega-3 fatty acids. These good fats are necessary for a variety of biological processes, including maintaining good cognitive health, lowering the risk of mental decline, and preventing conditions like Alzheimer’s disease.
Cruciferous veggies are also high in the following nutrients:
- Folic Acid
- Vitamin C
Nutrients Per Serving
The exact nutritional content of cruciferous vegetables varies, although the macronutrients are pretty stable. One cup of cooked broccoli, for example, contains:
- 55 calories
- 4 grams of protein
- 1 gram of fat
- 11 grams of carbohydrates
- 5 grams of fibre
- 2 gram sugar
How Much Should You Eat
Adult women should consume 2.5 cups of vegetables per day, while adult men should consume 3 cups, according to the US Department of Agriculture. 1 cup of veggies is 1 cup of cooked or raw broccoli, Brussels sprouts, or cauliflower. Two cups of leafy greens, such as kale or arugula, count as one cup of vegetables.
Cruciferous vegetables do not have to make up a large portion of your total vegetable intake, but they should be included on a daily basis for the best health benefits.
Can You Get Bloating From Cruciferous Vegetables
Stomach discomfort from bloating and gas is a common complaint when eating broccoli, cabbage, or other cruciferous vegetables.
According to Harvard Health Publishing, this occurs because these veggies are high in fiber and contain raffinose, a complex carbohydrate that is fermented in our stomach. So, when fermentation takes place, gas is produced.
To avoid this, stay hydrated and begin with modest portions, gradually increasing as tolerated. Always make sure to chew thoroughly. Another option is to take a digestive enzyme, which aids in the breakdown and digestion of these foods.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, just 9% of Americans consume enough vegetables on a daily basis, so the greatest first step for most of us — regardless of whether you’re concerned about blood sugar control or diabetes risk — is to simply start eating more vegetables.
Cruciferous vegetables are not only low in calories and high in nutrients, but they may also help fight cancer. If you’re attempting to lose weight or simply want to add more healthy options to your diet, try a variety of recipes that include cruciferous veggies to achieve your daily recommended serving.