There is no doubt that eating lots of fruits and vegetables, along with berries, nuts, seeds, etc. is healthy, but not all of them are equally protective against cancer. There is one family that is especially protective: the cruciferous (cabbage-family) vegetables.
What is so special about cruciferous vegetables
I first learned about this in our new book: Super Immunity: The Essential Nutrition Guide for Boosting Your Body’s Defenses to Live Longer, Stronger, and Disease Free written by Joel Fuhrman. In one of his newsletter he says:
“Cruciferous vegetables contain glucosinolates and in a different area of the cell, an enzyme called myrosinase. When we blend, chop or chew these vegetables, we break up the plant cells, allowing myrosinase to come into contact with glucosinolates, initiating a chemical reaction that produces isothiocyanates (ITCs) – powerful anti-cancer compounds. ITCs have been shown to detoxify and remove carcinogens, kill cancer cells, and prevent tumors from growing.
Observational studies have shown that eating ITC-rich cruciferous vegetables protects against cancer – here are a few examples:
Twenty-eight servings of vegetables per week decreased prostate cancer risk by 33%, but just 3 servings of cruciferous vegetables per week decreased prostate cancer risk by 41%.
One or more servings of cabbage per week reduced risk of pancreatic cancer by 38%.
One serving per day of cruciferous vegetables reduced the risk of breast cancer by over 50%.”
What are the cruciferous vegetables
We have all heard that some exotic fruits can help against cancer. The latest I heard is that Sour Sop or the fruit from the graviola tree is a miraculous natural cancer cell killer. This is great! But in my area there aren’t any graviola trees growing. Cruciferous vegetables, however, grow everywhere.
We also know cruciferous vegetables as winter vegetables, because they are frost hardy. In warmer climates people grow them in the winter, and in very cold areas they can be grown in the summer. So we all can grow them, have them, eat them!
Here is a list of cruciferous vegetables:
How to get the most out of Cruciferous vegetables
We should eat cruciferous (cabbage-family) vegetables every day. “Don’t forget: chopping, chewing, blending, or juicing cruciferous vegetables is necessary to produce the anti-cancer ITCs.” says Dr Fuhrman.
The enzyme that is needed to create the anti cancer component, is destroyed by cooking. It also is not present in frozen cruciferious vegetables because they are blanched prior to be frozen. A lot of cruciferous vegetables like arugula, kale, kohlrabi and even cabbage are very tasty raw, others we prefer eating cooked.
What to do?
Dr. Greger suggests two methods:
Pre-chop cruciferous (cabbage-family) vegetables about an hour prior to cooking them. The powerful anti-cancer compounds will be produced for maximum health benefits.
Or, adding enzymes in the form of even a pinch of mustard powder, or row cruciferous (cabbage-family) vegetables to cooked cruciferous vegetables can offer anti-cancer sulforaphane levels comparable to raw.
Here more information on this:
In our blog post growing food – cabbage, we write all about growing cabbage, check it out.