Cruciferous vegetables have received a lot of attention in the media for their many health benefits. These nutritious vegetables belong to the Brassicaceae family, which literally means cabbage. Although Brassicaceae means cabbage, there is a wide variety of vegetables in this family. You will get many health benefits by eating cruciferous vegetables; however, before you load your plate up with these vegetables, you should know some important facts about them, including the fact that you may be eating more than you think!
1. Types of Cruciferous Vegetables
While you may already know that broccoli and cabbage are considered cruciferous vegetables, you may not realize how many other vegetables are included in the Brassicaceae family. Many dark leaf greens are crucifers, including kale, arugula, mustard greens, and watercress. Radishes, rutabaga, and turnips also belong to this family of healthy vegetables. If you drink green smoothies with kale, eat broccoli, and include radishes in your salads, you are already getting a healthy dose of cruciferous vegetables.
2. Nutrient Powerhouses
Cruciferous vegetables are full of nutrients. They are all extremely high in vitamin K. Just one cup of cooked kale has 2,921 micrograms of vitamin K, which is much more than the recommended daily value of 90 micrograms! In addition to vitamin K, cruciferous vegetables also contain healthy doses of vitamin A, vitamin C, manganese, and iron. They even have protein and omega 3 fatty acids!
3. Eye Health
I am sure you have heard that eating carrots will improve your eyesight; however, eating cruciferous vegetables will also help keep you vision intact. Cruciferous vegetables are high in zeaxanthin and lutein, which are nutrients needed for healthy eyes. They are important structural components of your eyes, and they help your eyes filter light. They may even help protect your eyes from harmful UV rays!
4. Bone Health
Eating cruciferous vegetables will help you build strong bones. They are great sources of calcium, magnesium, and vitamin K, which are nutrients your body needs to maintain bone health. Two cups of chopped kale will give you 20 percent of your daily value of calcium and magnesium. It will also give you a whopping 1000 percent of your daily value of vitamin K! With all of these bone building nutrients, there is very little reason not to add cruciferous vegetables to your diet.
5. Consequences for Thyroid
While there are very few reasons not to add cruciferous vegetables to your diet, there is one reason you may want to pass on these healthy vegetables. Cruciferous vegetables can keep the thyroid from functioning properly. They have the ability to block iodine from being used to produce thyroid hormones. They are also known as goitrogens because they can cause an enlarged thyroid, a goiter. So, if you have thyroid problems, limit yourself to eating small amounts of cooked crucifers; cooking partially deactivates the thyroid harming compounds.
6. Cancer Prevention
While cruciferous vegetables may not be great for thyroid health, they are superior when it comes to cancer prevention. Cruciferous vegetables have high levels of a phytonutrient called glucosinolate. Glucosinolate helps prevent cancer by eliminating carcinogens that damage DNA and lead to cancerous cells!
7. Raw versus Cooked
The nutrient content of cruciferous vegetables changes depending on how you cook them. When consumed raw, the glucosinolate levels are much higher. Also, certain nutrients like vitamin C remain intact. However, steaming these vegetables is also healthy because it has been shown to decrease the risk of colon cancer, and it decreases some of the thyroid harming compounds.
Cruciferous vegetables are extremely healthy due to all of the nutrients they contain. Thankfully, it is easy to eat a wide array of cruciferous vegetables. For a healthy body, try to eat plenty of cruciferous vegetables. Just be careful if you have an underlying thyroid condition. Did you know there were so many types of crucifers?