Cruciferous vegetables: nutrition, benefits, and side effects


Cruciferous vegetables have created a lot of buzz in the health and fitness world due to their weight loss and cancer-fighting properties. A member of the family of veggies that includes brussels sprouts, collard greens, turnips, kale, and more, cruciferous vegetables are sometimes also known as Brassica vegetables.

The term “cruciferous” comes from the Latin word Cruciferae, which means cross-bearing, as the four petals of these vegetables resemble a cross. Cruciferous is a classification for members of the mustard family.

What are Cruciferous Vegetables?

High in fiber and low in calories, these vegetables are nutritious and super-healthy. Eating cruciferous veggies helps you feel fuller for a longer time, which makes them an efficient addition to weight loss diets.

These vegetables contain many essential minerals and vitamins that your body needs, along with some unique nutrients that help your body function more efficiently while also preventing a number of diseases. The cruciferous group of vegetables is diverse, with each veggie providing unique and strong flavors.

Cruciferous vegetables are high in fiber and low in calories. (Photo via Pexels/Kindel Media)
Cruciferous vegetables are high in fiber and low in calories. (Photo via Pexels/Kindel Media)

Nutritional Content of These Vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables are rich in many minerals and vitamins and are also an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. These healthy fats are important for numerous bodily functions, such as reducing the risk of mental illnesses like Alzheimer’s disease, maintaining good cognitive health, and more.

Additionally, these vegetables are also a good source of the following:

  • Iron
  • Calcium
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K
  • Fiber
  • Folic acid
  • Selenium

These vegetables also contain phytonutrients – a plant-based compound that helps lower the risk of developing cancer and prevents inflammation. Cruciferous veggies are loaded with glucosinolates as well. Glucosinolates are chemicals that not only give flavor and aroma to these plants, but they have anticancer properties too.

Health Benefits of Cruciferous Vegetables

Here are some of the top benefits of adding cruciferous veggies to your diet:

Promotes heart health

Various studies have shown that these types of vegetables lower the risk of heart disease. Glucosinolate in cruciferous veggies reduces LDL (bad) cholesterol and helps good cholesterol to keep your arteries free from toxic deposits that can lead to stroke and other heart problems.

Helps with weight loss

The high fiber content in cruciferous veggies makes them an excellent addition to any weight loss diet. It is estimated that a serving of these vegetables covers 20% of your daily fiber requirement. Various studies show that consuming 30 grams of fiber each day not only aids in weight loss but also helps lower your blood pressure, prevent diabetes, and reduce your risk of obesity.

These vegetables promote weight loss. (Photo via Pexels/SHVETS production)
These vegetables promote weight loss. (Photo via Pexels/SHVETS production)

Provides cancer protection

The glucosinolates in these vegetables help stop the growth of cancer tumors and have cancer-killing properties as well. Studies have shown that people with a high intake of cruciferous vegetables are less likely to get cancer, including pancreatic, stomach, and breast cancer.

Improves immunity

The nutritional content in cruciferous veggies also helps lower the risk of chronic illnesses, including asthma, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and more. Plant-based nutrients in these vegetables contain antimicrobial properties that improve your immunity and fight against disease-causing pathogens.

Cruciferous Vegetables List

You’ll be amazed to learn that there are more than 3,000 cruciferous species that include these common vegetables:

  • cauliflower
  • broccoli
  • kale
  • spinach
  • cabbage
  • brussels sprouts
  • cabbage
  • bok choy
  • arugula
  • turnips
  • radish
  • collard greens
  • garden cress
  • land cress
  • mustard
  • mizuna
  • horseradish
  • daikon
  • rutabaga
  • komatsuna
  • kohlrabi
  • wasabi
  • tasoi
  • watercress
Some nutritious cruciferous vegetables. (Photo via Pexels/Yaroslav Shuraev)
Some nutritious cruciferous vegetables. (Photo via Pexels/Yaroslav Shuraev)

Portion Sizes

According to USDA, you must eat at least 1.5 to 2.5 cups of cruciferous veggies per week. Research has shown that three servings of these vegetables a day slows aging and also lowers the risk of serious health problems.

Despite the amazing benefits of eating cruciferous vegetables, there may be some side effects to consider as well.

One of the most common side effects of consuming excessive cruciferous veggies is gas. The fiber content in these vegetables undergoes fermentation in the intestine and leads to flatulence. Some people might also be allergic to specific types of cruciferous veggies, and thus, it is important to limit their daily intake and chew these vegetables thoroughly.

If you experience any type of allergic symptoms such as hives, rashes, or swelling after consumption, stop eating immediately and consult a doctor.

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