TheGuardian Nigeria. Thursday, October 26, 2017.
The cruciferous vegetables like most vegetables loaded with phytochemicals (phytonutrients) are vegetables that can either reduce the risk of occurrence of some chronic degenerative diseases, including cancer or can actually heal. The cruciferous vegetables belong to the family of plants known as Brassicaceae. Their name, cruciferous is derived from the arrangement of the four petals of their flower, like the cross.
The following are the vegetables in this group that are commonly found in this country: Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale and water cress. All these vegetables are rich in vitamins such as Vitamins C, K, B2, B6 and folic acid. Also found in them are minerals such as potassium, magnesium and the potent antioxidant selenium. They are also a rich source of soluble fiber and plant based Omega 3s.
Cruciferous vegetables contain other nutrients and phytochemicals that make them potential anticancer agents. These phytochemicals which belong to the group known as isothiocyanates are the 3,3′ diindolylmethane, sulphoraphane, and selenium. With these vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, the cruciferous vegetables help to lower the risk of diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease; they are both preventive and curative. These vegetables do these in the following ways:
1. They stop the growth of cancer cells in tumours of the breast, endometrium (the inner lining of the womb), lung, colon, liver and cervix.
2. The phytochemical, sulphoraphane stimulates enzymes in the body that detoxify carcinogens before they cause damage to the cells.
3. They reduce oxidative stress (overload of free radicals which destroy cells and their contents – DNA, causing cancer).
4. In combination with fish oils, the cruciferous vegetables help to protect against cardiovascular diseases.
5. 3,3′ diindolylmethane is a strong androgen receptorantagonist which makes these vegetables a good preventive against cancers like prostate cancer in men. They generally act against those cancers that are hormone dependent in both males and females.
6. Indoles in the vegetables eliminate oestrogen from the body and prevent it from triggering the growth of breast cancer.
7. Studies have shown that a high fiber diet can reduce breast cancer risk by as much as 54 per cent.
Cruciferous vegetables, loaded with a high concentration of soluble fiber does actually reduce the risk of breast cancer in those who regularly consume them. Soluble fiber which gets absorbed into the system binds to chemicals, heavy metals and other pollutants for easy elimination from the body. Generally speaking, cruciferous vegetables are associated with improved health and reduced risk of various chronic diseases, including cancer.
How should cruciferous vegetables be eaten?
It is best to eat them raw but if this is not possible, may be because of their sharp taste and pungent smell, they can be steamed lightly before eating. Boiling cruciferous vegetables or any other type of vegetable destroys the nutrients in them. How often should they be eaten? Eating half a cup or a full cup of these vegetables daily will not cause any harm. Where this is not possible, four to five servings a week will be adequate.
In conclusion, I will like to reveal to you that the commonest and cheapest of these cruciferous vegetables is water cress. It is actually considered a weed and cleared off from the compound and along sewage drains on every environmental days. You can always find it to buy from any vegetable market. My advice is that you should make water cress, cabbage and cauliflower regulars in your salad. They are available and affordable.