What Cruciferous Vegetables Are and Their Benefits

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 08/31/2023

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Did you know that consuming only 1½ cups of cruciferous vegetables per week can reduce cancer risk by 41 percent? There is good evidence that the cruciferous vegetable family has potent anticancer and cancer prevention properties. This family of foods has been also shown to balance estrogens in the body, promoting hormonal health.

Cruciferous vegetables have natural plant chemicals, called phytochemicals, which assist the liver in its normal detoxification process. These foods are high in potassium and low in sodium, too.

Cruciferous foods include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, collard greens, kale, cauliflower, and radish. Kale is my personal favorite. Add some sliced almonds over cut kale with Newman’s Own Ranch Dressing, and it would not only taste quite good but would also be extremely healthy.

'Cruciferous' comes from the Latin word, meaning “cross”, so named because the four petals of these plants’ tiny flowers resemble a cross. These vegetables are nutrient dense, high in fiber, high in potassium, low in sodium, and high in whole-food vitamins and minerals.

There are several studies that link cruciferous vegetables with reducing the risk of breast, prostate, cervical, and other cancers, as well as with delaying the onset of cancer and reducing the size and growth of tumors.

Researchers have isolated compounds from the vegetable broccoli that they believe may help prevent or slow the progress of bladder cancer. Those subjects who ate both green leafy and cruciferous vegetables enjoyed 'particularly strong' cancer prevention protection. These vegetables have been associated with metabolizing toxins from cigarette smoke and lowering the risk of tobacco-related cancers. Only cruciferous vegetables contain a nutrient that has been associated with a decrease in lung cancer. Even nonsmokers benefit, because it protects them from the adverse effects of secondhand smoke.

At the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance, California, a study was conducted to document the effects of eating broccoli among men and women, ages 50 to 74. The results showed that those who consumed more broccoli (average: 3.7 half-cup cooked servings weekly) were 50 percent less likely to develop colorectal cancer than those who never ate broccoli.

At Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, scientists also tested the effects of broccoli sprouts on rats. The rats were first fed broccoli sprouts. A few days later, they were injected with a carcinogen (a chemical that causes cancer). The results showed that the rats that ate broccoli sprouts developed smaller, fewer, and slower-growing tumors than the rats that were on a regular diet.

Hopkins researchers Paul Talalay and Jed Fahey discovered that broccoli sprouts have high concentrations of sulforaphane glucosinolate (SGS), which can boost the body’s antioxidant levels. Using funding from the National Institutes of Health, Talalay and Fahey found that the sprouts have 20 to 50 times the concentration of SGS compared with levels in cooked adult broccoli. Hopkins even got the patents on a special sprouting method and now sell their own product called BroccoSprouts®: www.broccosprouts.com.

At the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, researchers discovered that men who consumed three or more half-cup servings of cruciferous vegetables a week were 41 percent less likely to develop prostate cancer. These men were between the ages of 40 and 64.

A new study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute shows that three or more servings of cruciferous vegetables per week slash prostate cancer risk almost in half. The study, which involved more than 600 men, was conducted in the Seattle area. This confirms data from a Canadian study showing that cruciferous vegetables, tomatoes, green vegetables, and beans/lentils/nuts all substantially reduce the risk of prostate cancer.

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