Cancer : Crazy for Cruciferous Veggies

We all know that vegetables are an essential part of a healthy diet, but one group of veggies in particular -- cruciferous vegetables -- really shines when it comes to supporting well-being and preventing disease. Arugula, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale, radishes, turnips, and watercress contain unique phytochemicals that can help balance hormones, detoxify the body, and prevent toxins from causing damage to DNA that could lead to cancer.

The cruciferous veggies are higher in vitamin A carotenoids, vitamin C, folic acid, fiber, and phytochemicals than any other veggie family. Cruciferous vegetables are also rich in vitamin D.

Cruciferous vegetables are superstars for their phytonutrients. They are excellent sources of sulfur-containing compounds known as glucosinolates. The breakdown of glucosinolates results in the formation of biologically active compounds such as indoles and isothiocyanates. Research finds that these phytochemicals have a variety of health benefits.
  • A recent study suggests that eating broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables may improve the odds for breast cancer survival. In a study of women in China diagnosed with breast cancer, those who consumed the most cruciferous veggies were 62 percent less likely to die of breast cancer and 35 percent less likely to have a recurrence of the disease. Previous studies link cruciferous veggies with a reduced risk of developing breast cancer.
  • The sulforaphane in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables may help prevent respiratory inflammation linked to asthma, allergic rhinitis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
  • Studies have shown that people with a high intake of cabbage have lower rates of colon, prostate, and breast cancer.
Enjoy cruciferous veggies lightly steamed. A harsher cooking method may destroy these veggies' cancer-fighting powers. For example, in one study, researchers compared boiled, microwaved, and steamed broccoli and found that steaming broccoli for up to five minutes was the best way to retain the enzyme needed to form sulforaphane. Boiling and microwaving it for one minute or less destroyed the majority of the enzyme.

In addition to lightly steaming cruciferous veggies, eat them raw and add them to salads and smoothies for a powerful boost of nutrition.
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