In a heavy meat and potato eating society with a reliance on fast foods, there is a tendency to ignore veggies and even malign them as a distraction from what you really want to eat. Yet, vegetables need to be a large part of our diets if we wish to avoid chronic diseases, pharmaceutical dependency and hospitalization. One family of vegetables in particular stands out as best to keep cancer away.
Recent studies have confirmed what foodies and holistic health practitioners have preached for some time about the cancer protective effects of cruciferous vegetables. Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, kale, radishes, and turnips.
These are vegetables that are often ignored. But at least some of them should part of your daily diet if you care about your health.
Clinically Proven Health Benefits of Cruciferous Vegetables
A 1996 review of many studies by the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found strong evidence for cruciferous vegetables’ cancer inhibiting capabilities in over 70 percent of them.
The American Institute for Cancer Research acknowledges that various elements of cruciferous vegetables stop cancer cell growth in breast tumors, uterine lining, lung, colon, liver, and cervix. Epidemiological studies (long term large scale statistical surveys) have shown that men who included high amounts of cruciferous vegetables in their diet had lower rates of prostate cancer than those who mostly ignored those vegetables.
Lab studies conducted by Mathew Wallig, PhD at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign isolated the cancer fighting cruciferous compounds and observed the mechanics of how they keep cancer away.
Sulforaphane, one of the cruciferous phytochemicals, stimulates enzymes in the body that detoxify carcinogens before they damage cells. Dr. Wallig also found that the synergistic combination of two other cruciferous compounds, indole 3-carbinol and crambene seem to vigorously activate detoxification enzymes to keep cancer away.
Another study funded by the National Cancer Institute tested the oxidative stress reduction of cruciferous vegetables against a multivitamin with fiber. The study, conducted by Jay H. Fowke PhD at the Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, had a group of men eat lots of cruciferous vegetables for three weeks and then take a multivitamin with fiber for three weeks. In between those two periods was a clearing out period of consuming neither.
Oxidative stress was reduced 22 percent on average from the cruciferous diet, while the oxidative stress reduction from the multivitamin and fiber was a mere half of one percent! Of course, they were using low quality multivitamins. Several studies have shown there is good value in high quality multivitamin supplements. Nevertheless, these results were impressive.
With all the different cruciferous vegetables available loaded with minerals, vitamins and fiber, as well as these cancer fighting and antioxidant capabilities, consuming a cruciferous a day is highly worthwhile. Using cruciferous vegetables lightly streamed or raw in salads or for dips will keep their delicate phytonutrients intact.
Food Is Our First Medicine
Our desire to satisfy taste buds quickly and easily has led many of us astray from healthy diets. But it’s not hard to get back on track. There are many ways to create tasty dishes and salads that include cruciferous vegetables. Search the internet or cook books for ideas, but keep in mind that the less they are cooked, the better they are for your health.
Raw organic veggies are best for preserving the vital enzymes that help metabolize the nutrients in all vegetables. So add some broccoli florets to your salads. Keeping a constant supply of fresh coleslaw on hand helps ensure that you are fortifying yourself against cancer. Lightly steaming or stir frying (with healthy oils) is better than the usual overcooking methods.
Keep in mind that anything packaged, canned or frozen won’t work nearly as well as the fresh stuff out of the ground, especially if that fresh stuff is organic or local. Juicing with a slow speed masticating juicer is a great way to add a cruciferous in with your carrots and greens. Slow speed juicing concentrates the amount of vegetables you can easily assimilate with all the enzymes and phytonutrients intact.
It’s wise to add a cruciferous a day to the old adage about an apple a day keeping the doctor away.
Sources for more information include:
World’s Healthiest Foods – Broccoli http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=9
World’s Healthiest Foods – Cauliflower http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=13#descr
The Super-Vegies: Cruciferous Vegetables http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/news/20070419/super-veggies-cruciferous-vegetables