Why it Matters
Cruciferous vegetables belong to the Brassicaceae family of vegetables and get their name from the Latin word Cruciferae, which means “cross bearing” due to the cross-like shape of their flowers. Cruciferous vegetables have health benefits that go above and beyond the general nutrition of most foods. These vegetables are called “functional foods” because they promote optimal health and help reduce the risk of disease.
Cruciferous vegetables include: arugula, bok choy, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, kohlrabi, maca, mustard greens, radishes, rutabaga, and turnips, to name a few.
These vegetables are functional foods because they protect against cancer and promote liver health. Cruciferous vegetables contain many antioxidants as well as sulfur compounds, specifically indole-3 carbinol, which helps to eliminate excess estrogen and may help to prevent hormone-dependent cancers. In addition, cruciferous vegetables are filling and fiber-rich, and help to regulate blood sugar.
When eaten raw, goitrogens are released as a result of cruciferous vegetable digestion. Goitrogens are substances that disrupt the production of thyroid hormones by interfering with iodine uptake. However, research shows that it would take a large amount of cruciferous vegetables to cause thyroid damage, and would likely only be an issue if someone also has an iodine deficiency. If you do have thyroid issues, it’s best to only eat cruciferous vegetables that have been cooked and limit your intake to about 1-2 servings per day.
Cruciferous vegetables have many health benefits as a “functional food”, specifically by supporting liver health. Incorporate 1-2 servings of cruciferous vegetables per day for health benefits.