Did You Know?Apart from being high in vitamins and minerals, cruciferous vegetables display cancer fighting and immune-boosting properties.
Vegetables are basically plant-based foods but what distinguishes cruciferous vegetables from others are their flowers. Take a close look at the cruciferous vegetable plants and you will find that they have cross or crucifer shaped flowers. These vegetables belong to the plant family of Cruciferae and are considered to be healthy foods, thanks to their high nutritional value.
- Brussels sprouts
- Collard greens
- Mustard greens
- Wild Broccoli
- Broccoli romanesco
- Ethiopian Mustard
- Land cress
- Bok choy
- Garden cress
- Chinese Cabbage
- Being a good source of fiber, cruciferous vegetables promote healthy bowel movement.
- These vegetables also help in ensuring healthy hormonal balance. The breakdown of the hormone estrogen (predominantly found in women and promotes development of female sex characteristics) is essential to regulate hormone levels. Studies show that cruciferous vegetables contribute in maintaining normal estrogen metabolism.
- Consuming these vegetables on a daily basis makes the body more alkaline and reduce the oxidative stress.
An important constituent of cruciferous vegetables is goitrogens, substances that are notorious for lowering thyroid function. Goitrogens stimulate development of goiter, a condition in which the thyroid gland becomes abnormally large. Animal studies also indicate that too much consumption of cruciferous vegetables, reduces production of thyroid hormones. So, one should avoid eating raw cruciferous vegetables in excess. Also, people suffering from hypothyroidism are advised to minimize the intake of cruciferous vegetables and should talk to a doctor to know how much of these can be consumed daily to prevent the onset of thyroid problems. One of the best ways to nullify the effect of goitrogens is to cook these vegetables for a slightly longer time. Avoid overcooking as the vegetables lose their nutritional value.
It is also observed that oxalic acid found in cruciferous vegetables may reduce your capacity to absorb calcium. This unabsorbed material that binds with oxalic acid, may harden to form kidney stones. Also, the likelihood of oxalate stone formation increases with regular consumption of cruciferous vegetables. However, this can be always avoided by eating steam cooked vegetable. Steaming and even boiling minimizes the amount of oxalic acid present in these vegetables. For instance, cooking spinach in boiling water for just a minute is enough to get rid of oxalic acid. The oxalic acid usually gets accumulated in the water that is used while cooking. So, make sure to discard water immediately after cooking. All in all, it would not be wrong to conclude that lightly cooking the vegetable is a healthier option than consuming it in raw form.
As thyroid problems and intake of cruciferous vegetables are related, quite a few thyroid patients would want to know about non cruciferous vegetables. These vegetables are also considered to be excellent sources of minerals and vitamins and more importantly, they do not damage the thyroid function. Carrots, green pepper, asparagus, green onions, sweet potato and tomatoes are non cruciferous and can go a long way in keeping good health.
This was all about cruciferous vegetables. On the whole, those looking for a good diet should include at least a few cruciferous vegetables in their daily meals. However, make sure you consume them in moderation so as to keep the thyroid function normal.