Bragging about Brassicas

Brassica vegetables are some of the healthiest foods to consume regularly. Also known as cruciferous vegetables, the Brassica vegetables include powerfully nutritious foods: broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, cabbage, kale, collard greens, arugala, bok choi, and various radishes.


Why is this plant family so healthy? These vegetables prevent oxidative stress, induce detoxification enzymes, stimulate immune system, decrease the risk of cancers, inhibit malignant transformation and carcinogenic mutations, as well as reduce proliferation of cancer cells

Brassicas vegetables are nutrient-dense foods, rich in the following: 

  1. Antioxidant Enzymes (catalase, superoxide dismutase, and peroxidase)- cruciferous veggies are loaded with antioxidant enzymes that prevent damage to cells, defending the body from harmful "free radicals", and induce proper immune function
  2. Protein – Two hundred calories of steamed broccoli will provide you with 20 grams of protein — not as much as the 30 grams in two hundred calories of roasted chicken breast — but still a very substantial amount.
  3. Fiber – One hundred calories' worth of cruciferous vegetables (about 5% of a daily diet) provides about 25-40% of your daily fiber requirement! 
  4. Glucosinolates – cruciferous vegetables are even more renowned for their phytonutrients, notably glucosinolates. What's so special about glucosinolates is their potential for cancer prevention. Once converted into other molecules called isothiocyanates, the glucosinolates have an eye-opening track record in lowering the risk of certain cancers (such as prostate and breast cancer).  These phytonutrients are converted into compounds that not only fight cancer, but also balance hormones, promote the liver’s detoxification activity, and decrease inflammation
  5. Vitamins and minerals.
    • Vitamin A
    • Folate
    • Vitamin K – vitamin K content of cruciferous vegetables — especially kale and collards — is impressive. Vitamin K is a nutrient that clearly helps regulate our inflammatory response, regulate calcium storage (encourages that calcium is deposited in the bones and not in blood vessels) and is important for heart health, strong bones and proper blood clotting
    • Potassium
    • Magnesium
    • Much more! 

Consumption of vegetables including Brassica species has been strongly associated with the reduced risk of chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, cataracts and age-related functional decline. 

Glucosinolates and Goitrogens: The Thyroid

Cruciferous vegetables get a reputation of being bad for the thyroid. This is because those healthy glucosinolates like isothiocyanate can inhibit the body's uptake of iodine. So what is a person with thyroid disease to do? First, check with your doctor. However, if a person's thyroid disease is not caused by iodine deficiency, then consumption cruciferous vegetables is not as concerning. However, excessive and over-consumption (over 5 cups a day) of raw cruciferous vegetables over a long period of time should be avoided by everyone (thyroid disease or not). In general, it takes a significant amount of raw cruciferous vegetables to have a negative effect on thyroid function. The best way to get the benefits without the goitrogens? Eat a mixture of cooked and raw cruciferous vegetables, don't overeat them, and don't juice them. 


Each Brassica item has its own unique profile. 1 cup of broccoli is not the same as 1 cup of bok choi. And EVERY vegetable is beneficial in its own way, and a wide variety of vegetables (including and beyond the cruciferous family) is best.

*If you are on blood thinners, any other medications, or have any diagnosed condition, please check with your doctor before changing your diet or increasing your cruciferous vegetable intake as it may interact with medications 

Posted on October 11, 2017 .