How to Eat More Brassicas

The Rothschilds, the Tudors, the Du Ponts, the Flintstones. All important, influential families.

Ah yes, and the Brassicas.

Also referred to as cruciferous vegetables, the Brassica family is a genus of plants that are lords in the vegetable kingdom when it comes to health benefits. This family include broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, wasabi, turnip, rapini, bok choy, rutabaga, mustards, arugula, radishes, and more!

Basically everything that smells like farts if you cook it too long.

Ah, but if you cook them just right, the Brassicas will brighten, tenderize, and impart a wonderful, pleasantly bitter flavour to add contrast to your dishes.

They will also impart tremendous health benefits to your body.

Cruciferous vegetables contain a class of phytochemicals called isothiocyanates (ITCs) that are released when these vegetables get chopped, blended or chewed. These ITCs are partly responsible for what we’ll call the Brassica Family Values: hormonal balance, detoxification, and immunity. Let’s take a look at some of those phytochemicals that make sure the Brassica Family Values are upheld.

Indoles like indole-3-carbinol (I3C) and its metabolite diindolylmethane (DIM) have shown to be protective against hormone-sensitive cancers such as breast, ovarian, and prostate cancers [1, 2]. I3C and DIM help the body metabolize estrogen and other hormones so that they can be safely excreted by the body when present in excess.

Folate is a nutrient that is essential to the process of methylation. In simple terms, methylation is a repair process that helps to maintain healthy DNA, control inflammation, preserve tissues, aid detoxification, and balance mood, among other functions. Methylation relies heavily on the B vitamin folate (the natural counterpart to folic acid) found abundantly in green leafy cruciferous veggies.

Sulforaphane is thought to inhibit cancerous changes to the cell and promotes cancer cell death [3]. It can also activate enzymes that protect the cell from DNA damage through its antioxidant properties [4].

ITCs have anti-viral and anti-bacterial effects. Research on these compounds have shown that they may treat manifestations of human papilloma virus (warts, cervical dysplasia, and laryngeal papilllomas) [5], streptococcus pneumonia (a bacteria linked to pneumonia, bronchitis, meningitis, conjunctivitis, and others) [6], and helicobacter pylori (otherwise known as H. Pylori, linked to gastritis and ulcers) [7].

The Brassica family seems to have a particularly interesting relationship to cancer. In fact, the Brassicas are downright hostile to cancer. Check out these stats:

  • In population studies, a 20 percent increase in cruciferous vegetable consumption translates to a 40 percent decrease in bladder cancer rates [8].
  • It takes 28 servings of vegetables a week to decrease prostate cancer risk by 33 percent, but it takes just three servings of cruciferous vegetables a week to decrease prostate cancer risk by 41 percent [9].
  • One or more servings of cabbage per week reduces the risk of pancreatic cancer by 38 percent [10].

Don’t you want to eat more cruciferous vegetables now? Here are some recipes to get you started!

Mexican Twist Kale Pesto

Cauliflower Popcorn

Miso Butter Glazed Brussel Sprouts


Alex Picot-Annand, BA (Psych), Registered Holistic Nutritionist & Certified Life Coach

www.alexpicotannand.com

References:

1. https://www.landesbioscience.com/journals/cc/article/1993/

2. http://www.jbc.org/content/278/23/21136

3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24114482

4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25054107

5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19939441

6. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19939441

7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20459098

8. http://jnci.oxfordjournals.org/content/91/7/605.short

9. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10620635

10. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16492919