Few foods provide the broad, multi-body system support as cruciferous vegetables. The name "cruciferous" was originally named for the four equal-sized petals on the vegetables flowers, which form a cross-like shape. However, most scientists now prefer the term "brassica vegetables," which comes from the scientific, Latin name of the cabbage family of vegetables, Brassicaceae.
Here are 10 health benefits of cruciferous vegetables. The specific benefits of different brassica may vary, so please read our articles on each individual vegetable to learn more.
Cruciferous vegetables offer a wide range of anti-cancer properties and the research to support these claims is extensive. These vegetables offer a unique, three-system support: antioxidant, detoxification and anti-inflammatory.
High In Antioxidants
No other group of food, or even sub-group, is as rich in the antioxidants vitamin C and beta-carotene as brassica vegetables. They are also great providers of the antioxidants vitamin E, vitamin A, manganese, zinc and selenium and antioxidant phytonutrients.
The high vitamin C level in most cruciferous vegetables alone adds a great boost to the immune system. The wide variety of other vitamins and minerals may offer additional immune system support helping to fight viral infections such as the common cold as well as a variety of other health risks.
The same three-system support that make brassica vegetables great for preventing cancer may also help to strengthen the cardiovascular system and help prevent heart disease. More research is still needed to confirm these benefits, but preliminary studies are good.
Inflammatory System Support
Inflammation is one of the most important body functions when it comes to treating immediate injuries as well as long-term health risks. The vitamin K in cruciferous vegetables directly helps regulate inflammatory response. Other components of the vegetables, such as the omega-3 fatty acid content, support the inflammatory system in indirect, yet vital, ways.
Brassica vegetables strongly support the phase I and phase II components of body detoxification. Not only do they help stimulate this activity, but help to regulate it, keeping an important balance between the two.
High In Fiber
Most brassica vegetables provide half the Daily Value of dietary fiber per only 100 calories. Fiber not only helps with digestion but aids in weight loss as well by regulating one's metabolism and maintaining a healthy body weight. Fiber also promotes good colon health, even helping to prevent colon cancer.
The high fiber content in most cruciferous vegetables makes them a great digestive aid. Many of the compounds found in these vegetables also support the stomach lining and prevent bacterial growth.
Most brassica vegetables are high in vitamins and minerals that promote good bone health such as calcium and vitamin K.
The low calorie, nutrient rich content of cruciferous vegetables makes them an ideal addition to any healthy weight loss program.