The cruciferous are plant of the Brassicaceae or Cruciferae family; They are plants native to Western Asia and Europe; and they are characterized by having four petals opposite each other in the shape of a cross. There are more than 390 genera and 3000 species of crucifers, but the best known and most consumed are:

  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage or Cabbage
  • Brussels sprouts or cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Kale or Kale

Its main nutrients

The main nutrients that crucifers provide are:

  • Carbohydrates : mainly in the form of fiber and its content varies from 0.3 to 10% of its weight.
  • Proteins : its content varies between 1 to 3.3%.
  • Vitamins : provide vitamin C , folic acid , vitamin A and K .
  • Minerals : have significant amounts of calcium, iron, zinc, selenium, copper , manganese, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, and magnesium.

In addition to these nutrients, crucifers contain a group of substances called glucosinolates , which are chemical components with sulfur ; and those responsible for the penetrating aroma and bitter taste that characterizes them.

During meal preparation, chewing, and digestion, glucosinolates break down to form active biological compounds such as indoles , nitriles , thiocyanates, and isothiocyanates . It has been proven in various studies that these substances have very important anticancer effects .

Health benefits of cruciferous consumption

  • Bone system: Its consumption favors the production of collagen which improves the joints , their flexibility and inflammation, preventing diseases such as arthritis . Also due to its high calcium content, it prevents osteoporosis in women.
  • Eyes and skin: due to its high content of vitamin A and carotenes ; helps prevent cataracts and macular degeneration , improving eyesight . Also, this vitamin helps to keep the skin firm, rejuvenated and prevents skin cancer.
  • Digestive system : these vegetables have a high content of insoluble fiber that help digestive processes , favoring intestinal transit and preventing complications such as constipation .
  • Weight loss: they are vegetables with a low calorie content , they provide valuable nutrients, due to their large amount of fiber they give a lot of satiety and makes them ideal for those who are making a food plan to lose weight . They also have a diuretic effect so it helps with fluid retention and the elimination of toxins from the body.
  • Cardiovascular system : they provide potassium that helps lower blood pressure and promote circulation. Its fiber content means that the cholesterol content of food is not absorbed at the intestinal level , protecting the blood vessels from possible obstructions.
  • They prevent diabetes : its consumption together with foods that provide significant amounts of carbohydrates, help to level blood sugar levels, since they slow its absorption at the intestinal level, due to its fiber content.
  • Nervous system: some studies have shown that its consumption prevents Alzheimer’s due to the anti-inflammatory effect of isothiocyanates . Also due to its high content of folic acid, it stimulates the production of serotonin , which is a hormone related to well-being and helps prevent depression, improves mood in general and cognitive function.
  • Antioxidant : due to the important contribution of vitamins and minerals , they have very important antioxidant properties . They help fight free radicals that are responsible for damaging cells, leading to degenerative diseases and cancer . And also this antioxidant function delays aging and reduces oxidative stress while taking care of health.

How can they be consumed?

The best way is to consume them raw in salads or steamed or baked . If they are cooked boiled in water there is a significant loss of glucosinolates , between 30 and 60%. And the loss is even greater if they are cooked in the microwave and if they are cut and minced and not consumed within an hour of being done.

Dr. Eric Jackson

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses. He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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