Cruciferous vegetables are part of the Brassica genus of plants and include broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage, among others (see list here).
It’s interesting to review information on food and their effects on health. Like all research (which seems to be extremely focused), the results vary. The October 1996 Journal of the American Dietetic Association finds “The types of vegetables or fruit that most often appear to be protective against cancer are raw vegetables, followed by allium vegetables, carrots, green vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, and tomatoes.” This statement is followed by information on substances in these foods that protect against cancer. But fast forward to a study reported in April of 2010 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute which shows minimal effect of fruits and vegetables on cancer. Of courses there are multitudes of other reports and findings.
It does seem that most experts agree that healthy diets should include lots of fresh vegetables and fruits, a variety of whole grains and good sources of fats and protein. Most also suggest limiting refined, processed and sugary food products.
So why cruciferous vegetables specifically?
- High in fiber
- Low in calories
- Lots of vitamins and phytochemicals
and that’s a really good combination of benefits.
It seems that science hasn’t quite figured out the relationship between nutrition and health profiles, and there’s certainly a lot of disagreement among the experts about what’s best for us. But I think that what Dr. T. Colin Campbell posits in The China Study makes a lot of sense: “Genes give us our predispositions. We all have different disease risks due to our different genes…Regardless of our genes, we can all optimize our chances of expressing the right genes by providing our bodies with the best possible environment — that is, the best possible nutrition.”
Note of Caution to IBS Sufferers: Cruciferous vegetables are considered potential triggers for IBS and they could cause discomfort.