Cruciferous vegetables (also known as the Brassica family) contain phytochemicals, or plant compounds, that have unique abilities to modify human hormones, to detoxify phase 1 and phase 2 liver pathways, and to prevent toxic compounds from binding to human DNA. Studies have even shown that genetic defects that may lead to cancer are suppressed by the consumption of cruciferous vegetables.
Crucifers are a crucial part of a therapeutic diet used to manage and prevent cancer, to reduce inflammation, to enhance estrogen metabolism, and to maintain desired health outcomes. In fact, a number of studies have now shown that I3C (indole-3-carbinol) suppresses the proliferation of various cancer cell lines, including breast, colon, prostate, and endometrial cancer cells.
Cruciferous vegetables contain cells called glucosinolates. These cells are broken apart by chewing, cutting, blending, and pulverizing. These actions activate an enzyme called myrosinase, which yields the byproduct: isothiocyanates (ITC’s). These phytochemcials offer those tremendous benefits previously mentioned.
Myrosinase is a heat-sensitive enzyme, so the heat deactivates its ability to function. Therefore, it’s essential to blend or chop the cruciferous vegetables prior to gentle heating. Otherwise, the myrosinase may be deactivated and essentially rendered useless prior to initiating the beneficial ITC’s.
For regular detox, try to include cruciferous vegetables in most meals. For example, have a green smoothie or green juice with breakfast, a vegetable soup and/or green salad at lunch, and a source of crucifers with dinner. Chew well and heat gently to reap the most benefit!
Cruciferous vegetables to include in your diet in both raw and cooked form. Eat a variety often:
These cruciferous-containing recipes will help get you started:
Apple Kale Smoothie
3 large kale leaves, deveined 1 apple 1 cucumber
2 Tablespoons of lime juice, roughly water, as needed to reach desired texture organic liquid stevia, as desired
Instructions: Blend well in a Vita-mix until smooth.
For a Quick Go-To Meal:
Saute a dark, leafy green crucifer (like kale, collards, broccoli rabe or bok choy) in 1-2 Tablespoons of water with a cup of sliced or diced onion and pepper.
Add a jar of low sodium salsa.
Top greens with salsa and warm evenly.
For a more complete meal: add beans, tofu, mushrooms and/or a protein of choice to the sauté.
Serve over a bed of quinoa, potatoes or brown rice.
Don't be discouraged if it doesn’t taste great the first time. Your tastebuds will adjust and before long you'll be craving crucifers!