The Ultimate Guide To Cruciferous Vegetables

Cruciferous is a term that's being thrown around a lot these days when talking about vegetables that are really, really good for you. These veggies (also known as brassicas and or cole crops) are credited with everything from potential cancer-fighting properties to detoxifying benefits and more. But what does this really mean, and which veggies, aside from broccoli, qualify?

We're breaking down our top 10 cruciferous vegetables — the ones that we think are delicious and easy to add to your daily routine and pack the most nutritional punch.

Health Benefits

  • Cancer-fighting properties from phytochemicals
  • Vitamins A, B-6, C, K, thiamin, riboflavin and niacin, which help with everything from bone formation, neurological health + detoxification
  • Metabolism-controlling minerals such as copper and iron

How To Eat

  • Serve raw in salads, over grains, with meat and fish.
  • Dress minimally, with olive oil + lemon or balsamic vinegar, sea salt + fresh pepper

Health Benefits

  • Omega-3s for brain function and anti-inflammatory properties
  • High levels of vitamin K, a fat-soluble vitamin known for bone health and lowering inflammation
  • Zinc, which helps to regulate hormones
  • Antioxidant support from vitamins A and C and flavonoids

How To Eat

  • Cut heads in half lengthwise and sauté in a small amount of olive oil for 5 minutes or less — season as desired.
  • Slice + serve raw in salad or slightly cooked in stir-fries or other sautéed dishes

Health Benefits

  • Fiber content for digestive support + cholesterol-lowering benefits
  • Anti-inflammatory, pro-detox + antioxidant benefits for cancer-fighting
  • B-complex vitamins linked to cardiovascular health

How To Eat

Break into florets, slice stems and either:

  • Steam until just slightly cooked (about 2 minutes) and dress with sea salt + lemon or puree with bone broth for soup
  • Serve raw with a favorite dressing, hummus or dip
  • Use in stir-fries or other sautéed dishes

Health Benefits

  • Fiber content contributes to digestive support + cholesterol-lowering benefits
  • High in detoxifying + cancer-fighting glucosinolates phytonutrients
  • Elements in sprouts linked to improved DNA stability

How To Eat

  • Remove stems and any discolored outer leaves, then:
  • Slice in half lengthwise and pan sear, cut-side down, for a few minutes until brown. Season lightly.
  • Steam whole and drizzle with olive oil and lemon or tamari.
  • Slice + roast or keep raw for salads

Health Benefits

  • Detoxifying phytonutrients + antioxidant benefits from vitamin C + manganese lower chronic stress + risk of cancer
  • Excellent source of anti-inflammatory vitamin K
  • High fiber content for digestive support

How To Eat

  • Process + stir fry with aromatics + tamari for fried 'rice'
  • Sauté florets with coconut oil + turmeric
  • Roast florets with olive oil + salt

Health Benefits

  • Best of the cruciferous for cholesterol-lowering benefits by binding bile in digestive track, making it easier to exit the body
  • Cancer-fighting glucosinolates support detox + anti-inflammatory systems

How to Eat

  • Steam for just a minute or two and use as a lunch wrap
  • Slice + sauté with chili flakes + serve with black eyed peas
  • Slice very thinly, marinate in lemon + toss in salads

Health Benefits

  • B-vitamin folate is key for brain development
  • Fiber + protein content manage hunger + satiate
  • Lutein + zeaxanthin, nutrients protect against macular degeneration

How To Eat

  • Slice + sauté with olive oil and garlic
  • Bake with coconut oil + sea salt for chips
  • Slice very thinly, marinate in lemon + toss in salads

Health Benefits

  • High-fiber for gut health
  • Vitamin K for bone development + limiting neuronal brain damage
  • Indoles may inhibit cancer-cell growth

How To Eat

  • Braise with broth + vinegar
  • Sauté with olive oil, chili flakes + lemon
  • Blend with garlic, basil, olive oil + parmesan for pesto

Health Benefits

  • This detoxifying diuretic increases urine production
  • High levels of vitamin C and anthocyanins may inhibit cancer-cell growth
  • B + C vitamins, zinc, phosphorus + high water content benefit the skin health + appearance

How To Eat

  • Cut in quarters + serve with herbed yogurt + sea salt
  • Slice thin + toss in salads
  • Pickle in apple cider vinegar, salt + dill

Health Benefits

  • B vitamins help promote healthy liver, skin, eyes + hair
  • Calcium for bone, muscle + nervous system health
  • Indoles inhibit cancer-cell growth

How To Eat

  • Sauté sliced turnips with garlic, greens + a squeeze of lemon
  • Turnip mash: simmer in milk, mash + top with chives


References:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed
http://www.cancer.gov
http://www.whfoods.com

Photography by Vanessa Rees

Food Styling by Christina Liva


Explore More