So, I sort of love cruciferous vegetables—and this was true before we went vegan. But now they are one of the essential staples of our plant-based life. Cruciferous veggies are not just super foods, but also super diverse, encompassing everything from leafy greens like Swiss chard, Kale, Arugula to heartier fare, like cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower.
In today’s episode I share some of the reasons why I heart these delicious delights and ways to incorporate them into everyday eating.
First, why I love this amazing class of veggies:
Reason #1 – They have Cancer Fighting Powers
Like many families, mine has a history of cancer. Realistically, life in general may cause cancer. Carcinogens cause cancer and no matter how careful we are, we’re exposed to them–from food we eat to the air we breathe.
BUT, cruciferous veggies have phytochemicals and compounds that studies have shown activate carcinogen detoxifying enzymes. PLUS, they are super high in anti-oxidants which means they reduce free radicals that can lead to cancer formation.
Reason #2 – They Boost the Liver’s Detox Powers
So, I’m a health nut, but I drink a little. We all know that the liver is the part of the body that deals with detoxing the body. It takes what goes into the body and processes it. Things like alcohol and by-products from medications are send to the bowel or kidney’s to be eliminated. That’s where crucifers come in. Their previously mentioned carcinogen detoxifying enzyme stimulation protects the liver while it does its work.
Reason #3 – They Protect the Brain from Cognitive Decline
I am a carrier of one APOE4 allele. This is the gene that increases risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. As a carrier of one APOE4, my risk of developing late onset Alzheimer’s is increased by four times. The good news is that lots of studies out there show that increased consumption of veggies decreases risk of cognitive decline, with leafy greens and cruciferous veggies leading the pack.
Incorporating Crucifers Into Daily Eating
With protective powers like these, cruciferous veggies are a no-duh for me. Plus, they are so easy to cook and incorporate into daily meals.
One way is to toss them in recipes. For example, mustard seeds tossed in a hot pan before starting a stir fry or chili or soup, add a nice flavor and cruciferous goodness. Kale, collards, and cabbage are easy to chop and toss into salads, sauces or soups. Prepared mustard and horse radish can add spice to sauces and sandwiches. Radishes, arugula and kale are also easy, tasty sandwich additions.
Another obvious way to get more crucifers into you daily life is to make them a main course or side dish. There are a ton of tasty recipes out there, including a few of ours:
- Grilled Cauliflower with Chimichurri Sauce
- White Bean Kale Salad
- Red Cabbage Coleslaw
- Kohlrabi Kurma (from masalakor.com)
- Kolrabi Curry (Knol Khol Curry – from archanaskitchen.com)
- Indian Style Spiced Broccoli and Tomatoes
- Kale with Cannellini Beans –
- Roasted Potatoes, Cauliflower and Broccoli
I guess I’m lucky that I have always loved my broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale because I know for sure they have protected my body from poor dietary choices in the past. Now that I know their protective abilities, and I’ve cleaned up my diet, I kinda feel like I have super powers 😉 I hope these facts (all my resources are listed below) and maybe some of the recipes (more will be coming)…will inspire you to get more cruciferous goodness in your diet. Or, if you are already a crucifer junky like me, I’d love a link to your favorite recipe. Please share with a comment!
Kelly (& Steffan)