6 health benefits of cruciferous vegetables!

The benefits of cruciferous vegetables are many, although they are considered healthy, they have generated a lot of buzz lately among doctors. This is a consequence of both its potent health benefits for our body and its potential side effects.

There is a lot of information on social media that brings cruciferous vegetables as a superpowerful food to fight a series of diseases that affect our health, because according to this information these vegetables can, from killing cancer cells to balancing hormone levels in the skin .

However, there are also reports that these vegetables can directly affect the functioning of the thyroid gland and cause undesirable digestive symptoms.

However, there are a variety of vegetables that fit into this family that are used widely in the diet of many people around the world, this is because these vegetables do not add excess calories to the diet as they are low in calories.

In addition, even though cruciferous vegetables are low in calories, they are loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They also have compounds that intensify their beneficial health powers, such as antioxidant and phytochemical compounds, this fact makes them different from most vegetables from other families.

But the question at hand is: Do the benefits outweigh the risks, or should you avoid these controversial vegetables altogether? Read this post to the end and draw your own conclusions.

What are cruciferous vegetables? 

Cruciferous vegetables are vegetables that belong to the Brassicaceae plant family. These plants get their name from the new Latin word “Cruciferae”, which means crossing, due to the cross shape of their flowers.

Originating in Europe, the Mediterranean and the temperate regions of Asia, these vegetables have garnered wide popularity and are now grown all over the world.

These vegetables are low in calories but packed with nutrients. While individual nutrient profiles may vary, cruciferous vegetables tend to be high in vitamin A, vitamin C , and vitamin K , as well as dietary fiber.

They are also unique in that they contain sulfur-containing compounds called glucosinolates, which have been shown to have cancer-fighting properties. They have also been linked to a long list of health benefits, including improved heart health, increased weight loss, and reduced inflammation.

List of cruciferous vegetables: 

There are many ways to enjoy the benefits of cruciferous vegetables. Here is a list of what can be included in your diet, and which can offer you many health benefits:

  • arugula  ;
  • Mizuna;
  • mustard green;
  • Radish;
  • Rutabaga;
  • Nabo  ;
  • Cress;
  • bok choy;
  • Broccoli;
  • Brussels sprouts;
  • Cabbage;
  • Cauliflower;
  • Green cabbage;
  • kohlrabi;
  • Maca.

Health benefits of cruciferous vegetables: 

1. Fight cancer: 

Cruciferous vegetables are packed with potent cancer-fighting properties. Not only are they rich in antioxidants that can neutralize cancer-causing free radicals, but they also contain compounds like glucosinolates and indole-3-carbinol, which have been shown to have potent anti-cancer properties.

Several studies show an association between cruciferous vegetable consumption and cancer prevention. For example, one review comprised 94 studies and reported that a higher consumption of cruciferous vegetables was linked to a lower risk of lung, stomach, colon and rectal cancer.

Also, fill your plate with other cancer-fighting foods like berries, citrus fruits, nuts and seeds.

 2. Reduce inflammation: 

Inflammation is a normal immune response designed to protect the body against disease and infection. Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is at the root of most diseases and is believed to contribute to problems like heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

Undoubtedly, cruciferous vegetables are at the top of the best foods when it comes to relieving inflammation. A study published in 2014 showed that higher consumption of cruciferous vegetables was associated with up to a 25% reduction in inflammation markers in 1,005 women.

Reducing inflammation can also benefit inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, and asthma. Some of the other top anti-inflammatory foods include beets , celery, blueberries, and pineapple .

3. Regulate blood sugar: 

Cruciferous vegetables provide a good amount of dietary fiber in each serving. In fact, half a cup of cooked Brussels sprouts, for example, contains two grams of fiber , satisfying nearly 10% of your daily fiber needs in just one serving.

Fiber slows the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, preventing spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels. Additionally, a 2016 study out of China found that a higher consumption of cruciferous vegetables was associated with a significantly lower risk of type 2 diabetes among 306,723 participants.

For best results in maintaining normal blood sugar, combine a serving or two of cruciferous vegetables a day with plenty of physical activity and a healthy lifestyle.

 4. Promote weight loss: 

Want to lose weight quickly? Loading your plate with cruciferous vegetables can be one of the easiest ways to boost weight loss.

These vegetables are not only low in calories, but also high in fiber. Fiber moves slowly through the gastrointestinal tract, promoting satiety and staving off food cravings.

A 2009 study followed 252 women over a period of 20 months and found that each gram of fiber consumed reduced body weight by half a pound and reduced body fat by 0.25%.

Additionally, one study found that each serving of cruciferous vegetables was associated with 300 grams of weight loss over a two-year period.

However, it takes more than just adding a serving of broccoli to your diet daily to reach your weight loss goals. Fill your diet with plenty of other fruits and vegetables, minimize your consumption of ultra-processed foods, and get a good amount of exercise each week.

5. Improve heart health: 

As the leading cause of death in the United States, heart disease is projected to affect 44% of the US population by 2030. In that case, increasing your consumption of cruciferous vegetables is an easy way to fight heart disease to keep your heart healthy and strong.

Some studies have found that increasing vegetable consumption could lower the risk of heart problems. Additionally, one study followed 134,796 adults over an average period of 10 years and found that a higher consumption of vegetables — especially — was associated with a lower risk of death from heart disease.

In addition to eating lots of cruciferous vegetables , there are many other ways to reduce your risk of coronary heart disease . Minimize your alcohol consumption and stop smoking, try some natural stress relievers, and follow a healthy diet and lifestyle to make a big impact on your heart health .

6. Promote estrogen balance: 

Estrogen is the main female sex hormone responsible for regulating the reproductive system. However, excess estrogen can upset the balance of hormones and cause symptoms such as bloating, irregular menstrual periods, decreased sex drive, and headaches.

Researchers have found that there may be an association between and estrogen levels. This is thanks to the presence of indole-3-carbinol, a compound found in cruciferous vegetables that regulates estrogen activity and metabolism.

Due to this compound, adding cruciferous vegetables to the diet can regulate estrogen levels and prevent adverse side effects.

You can also balance your hormones naturally by swapping carbs for healthy fats, using essential oils and adaptogenic herbs, and ensuring you’re getting enough sleep each night.

Side effects of cruciferous vegetables: 

Despite the many health benefits of cruciferous vegetables , there may be some side effects that should be considered as well.

A common concern is the association between and gases. The fiber found in these vegetables undergoes fermentation in the large intestine, which can cause excess flatulence . For this reason, it’s best to increase your fiber intake slowly, chew your food well, and increase your fluid intake.

There is also some concern about the relationship between cruciferous vegetables and thyroid problems. When consumed raw, digestion in the intestines releases goiter , which can increase the need for iodine and cause damage to the thyroid gland.

However, research shows that it would take a large amount to cause thyroid damage, and it will likely only be a problem if someone also has an iodine deficiency.

So, if you have thyroid problems, it’s best to eat only cooked foods and limit your consumption to about one to two servings a day.

Cruciferous vegetables vs non-cruciferous vegetables: 

Cruciferous vegetables belong to the Brassicaceae family and are loaded with tons of health-promoting properties. In particular, these vegetables stand out because they have many sulfur-containing compounds, including sulforaphane, glucosinolates, and indole-3-carbinol.

Still, there are many other non-cruciferous vegetables that also offer powerful health benefits. Spinach, for example, is not considered a cruciferous vegetable, but it still packs a big punch in terms of nutrition, with tons of vitamin A , vitamin K, and antioxidants in every serving.

Here are some non-cruciferous vegetables that can also be healthy additions to your diet:

  • asparagus;
  • Carrots;
  • Aipo;
  • Chard;
  • cucumbers;
  • Garlic;
  • ginger ;
  • sweet potatoes;
  • Zucchini .

Final considerations: 

Cruciferous vegetables are vegetables in the Brassicaceae family. They are low in calories but high in vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K and antioxidants. They also have sulfur-containing compounds that have been linked to many health benefits.

Studies show that they contain cancer-fighting compounds and can reduce inflammation, regulate blood sugar, promote weight loss, improve heart health, and balance estrogen levels.

High amounts of these vegetables can cause excess gas and thyroid damage. If you have thyroid problems, cook vegetables and limit consumption to one to two servings a day.

Useful links: 

Try boiling, braising, or roasting and enjoying alone or as part of a nutritious meal. Combine a diet rich in other fruits and vegetables, as well as heart-healthy fats, lean proteins, and whole grains for the best results.

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