This trendy group of vegetables, named after their cross shaped petals, are packed full of vitamins and nutrients, can lower blood sugar, improve gut and heart health, and even fight cancer. Cauliflower has recently made a BIG debut, and I couldn't be more pleased. Cauliflower rice? Cauliflower mashed potatoes? Cauliflower pizza crust? Buffalo cauliflower? Sign me up!
Cruciferous Veggies Include:
*Disclaimer: Only buy ORGANIC! Kale has been named #3 on the 2019 Dirty Dozen list for produce that is high in pesticides.
Cancer Fighting Properties:
A study observing the diets of 182,145 women found that those women who consumed the largest amounts of cruciferous vegetables had the lowest rates of breast cancer. Additionally, these veggies have been found to reduce the risk of other hormonal cancers (i.e. endometrial and cervical cancers), possibly due to indole-3-carbinol, a hormone-balancing compound found in these veggies which promotes the production of a less potent form of estrogen,
consequently suppressing tumor growth.
Additionally, cruciferous vegetables have been found to lower the risk of other types of cancer such as colon, lung, stomach, and rectal. In addition to being full of antioxidants, researchers believe a compound called glucosinolates may play a key role. During digestion, the body breaks down glucosinolates which in turn produce anti-carcinogenic compounds called indoles, nitriles, thiocynates, and isothiocynates. These compounds have been found to prevent cancer growth and development by protecting DNA, initiating the death of damaged cells, inhibiting tumor formation, and triggering antioxidant activity.
Blood Sugar Regulation:
Sulforaphane, a specific type of isothiocynates (mentioned above) targets genes responsible for elevating glucose production in the liver. When tested on animals, Sulforaphane was found to be as effective as prescription diabetes medications in lowering blood sugar levels.
ALA (alpha-lipoic acid) found in cruciferous veggies has been shown to lower blood sugar levels, as well as prevent and reverse diabetic neuropathies, reducing pain and numbness as well as improving nerve function in diabetic patients.
Research has found that a protein in leafy greens stimulates the production of immune cells called innate lymphoid cells (ILC's) in the gut. The ILC’s fight off “bad” gut bacteria in the intestines and promote a favorable environment for “good” bacteria. ILC's may also prevent food allergies, inflammatory diseases, obesity, and colon cancer.
8 studies have found that leafy greens reduce the risk of heart disease by 15.8%, possibly because of their rich supply of vitamin K, specifically K2. Vitamin K2 is crucial for bone and heart health because it binds with calcium in the blood to transport it to the bones for use. In turn, this keeps the arteries clear of calcium build-up which can cause heart attack or stroke.
Charlotte Morgan, L.Ac.