Cruciferous Vegetables: The Ideal Anti-Cancer Family

Cruciferous vegetables are the mushy things that smelled up the kitchens of our childhood. Fortunately, few of us have held to that childhood vow. Instead, most of us have gone on to discover that when lightly steamed and appropriately sauced, these members of the cabbage family are actually tender, occasionally crunchy, sources of fiber that contain chemicals that may boost your body’s defenses against cancer.

All the crucifiers-including broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi, rutabagas and turnips-contain glucobrassicin, a naturally occurring compound that, once in your body, may help form substances called indoles. Studies have shown that indoles may help prevent breast cancer.

They also contain dithiolthiones, interesting substances that may help protect you from an assorted variety of potentially cancer-causing compounds. Cruciferous vegetables also contain benzyl, substance that may also help prevent cancer; or if the cancer’s already present-may help suppress its growth.

A half-cup serving of brussels sprouts, for example, packs in 81 percent of the Recommended  Dietary Allowance of vitamin C an 11 percent for folate, both of which are necessary to keep your immune system on the job. The same serving also has enough fiber to help control diabetes and lower cholesterol.

Cabbage, cauliflower and kale are all good sources of fiber, and a half-cup serving contains roughly half a day’s supply of vitamin C. Kale is also a respectable source of beta-carotene, which may reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. What’s more, a single serving of kohlrabi provides 74 percent of your daily requirement of vitamin C.

Fortunately for most of us, our tastes have changed since we were kids. The American consumption of fresh broccoli has jumped more than 400 percent over the past 20 years.

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