Cruciferous Vegetables: 10 Health Benefits and Reasons to Eat More of It
Cruciferous vegetables are a large family of vegetables that include broccoli, kale, brussels sprouts, collard greens, and cabbage.
In this post, you’ll learn about the health benefits of eating cruciferous vegetables.
We always hear about children, and even adults, hating broccoli or brussels sprouts. We hope you give these vegetables a chance or try new ones that you might like more.
Let’s get started.
1. Cruciferous vegetables are rich in nutrients
Cruciferous vegetables are low in calories but high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants like the cancer-fighting glucosinolates.
According to the USDA, half a cup (78 g) of cooked broccoli flowerets has only 27 calories.
But it has 2.6 g of fiber, more than 50% of the DRI for vitamin C, and more than 100% of the DRI for vitamin K (based on male and females 31-50 years old)
2. May help prevent cancer
Vegetables are generally associated with lowering the risk of cancer. A study in Seminars in Cancer Biology has pointed towards cruciferous vegetables contain compounds called glucosinolates.
These compounds help reduce the risk of cancer and may even help in treating it.
These compounds are found in large sources in broccoli, white cabbage, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower.
It has been found to help suppress the proliferation of hormone-related tumor cells, like from the colon, breast, prostate, and endometrium.
3. Have high fiber content
All vegetables are high in fiber. But cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, kale, brussels sprouts, have some of the highest amounts.
Fiber is important for regular bowel movement and gut health. It also helps you stay full and helps regulate blood sugar.
The DRI for fiber for adult men and women 31-50 years old is 25 and 31 g daily, respectively.
Many of these vegetables like collard greens, even in a half-cup serving (64 g), offer almost 10% of that daily requirement. This makes fiber one of my favorite health benefits of cruciferous vegetables.
4. Loaded with Folate (vitamin B9)
Folate, or vitamin B9, is a nutrient that plays an important role in red blood cell production.
According to the USDA, half a cup (78 g) of cooked broccoli flowerets has 21% of the RDA for folate (based on males and females 31-50 years old).
Red blood cells carry oxygen and nutrients throughout the body, thus folate plays a large role in overall health and wellness.
Along with vitamin B12 and iron, sufficient intake helps prevent anemia and is especially important during pregnancy and any stage of growth and development.
Related: 10 Lectin-Free Foods for Improved Gut Health
5. Promote healthy bones
Vitamin K, a fat-soluble vitamin, is important for proper blood clotting and wound healing. Without vitamin K, we would just bleed to death.
This vitamin is also important for building healthy bones.
According to the USDA, half a cup of cooked broccoli flowerets (78 g) has more than 100% (on average for males and females 31-50 years old) of the DRI for vitamin K.
To absorb the vitamin K from broccoli, it should be consumed as part of a meal that has fat, since vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin.
6. Is a good source of Beta-carotene / Vitamin A
Many people associate beta-carotene, which your body converts to vitamin A, with orange, yellow, and red-hued vegetables.
However, many dark green cruciferous vegetables like kale, collard greens, and romaine lettuce also have it.
According to the USDA, half a cup of kale, for example, has beta-carotene that your body converts to 440 mcg of vitamin A. And that is more than 50% of the DRI (on average for men and women 31-50 years old).
Beta-carotene itself is also an antioxidant that helps fight lifestyle diseases and aging, while vitamin A is important for skin, eye, and bone health.
To absorb the beta-carotene, these vegetables should be consumed as part of a meal that has fat, since beta-carotene is fat-soluble.
7. Promote heart health
Vitamin C, usually associated with citrus fruits, can also be obtained from cruciferous vegetables.
Known to boost immunity, vitamin C has many other functions. It helps in the growth and repair of skin, bone, and other tissues in the body. Vitamin C also helps in the absorption of iron from plant foods.
It is a known antioxidant and helps combat damage at the cellular level, contributing to a lower risk for cardiovascular disease and cancer, and helps fight aging.
According to the USDA, half a cup of cooked brussels sprouts (78 g) has 59% of the RDA for vitamin C (on average for men and women 31-50 years old).
8. Lower risk for cardiovascular disease
Vegetables are generally associated with a lowered risk for most diseases and cardiovascular disease, one of the most common today, is no exception.
According to this cumulative worldwide study that summarized the results of eight other studies, the consumption of cruciferous vegetables is associated with a notable 15.8% lowered incidence of the disease.
9. Help prevent type 2 diabetes
Vegetables are generally associated with a lowered risk for most diseases and type 2 diabetes, one of the most common today is no exception.
According to this cumulative study in Primary Care Diabetes, higher consumption of cruciferous vegetables is associated with a lower risk for type 2 diabetes.
This is could be due to their high fiber and antioxidant content, nutrient density, and low calories.
10. Enable mindful eating
Did you know that it usually takes a while for your brain to understand when it is full?
Chewing helps you slow down instead of gulping food down quickly. It helps your brain understand that you’ve eaten enough.
Cruciferous vegetables, prepared in most ways, need to be chewed. This helps you slow down, eat mindfully, helping you feel satisfied with your meal.
This also helps your brain tell you when you’re full and to stop eating.
Related: 10 Healthy Brain Foods to Keep Your Mind Super Sharp
As stated above, the consumption of cruciferous vegetables has been associated with many health benefits. This family of vegetables contain more nutrients than many other vegetables.
We hope you include more of this beautiful produce in your diet or new ways and recipes to prepare them, to enjoy the cruciferous vegetable health benefits.