10 Cruciferous Veggies To Include In Your Diet

Nutritious foods like fruits and vegetables are a crucial component of any well balanced diet. It’s easy to remember the more popular kinds, like apples and oranges, carrots, broccoli, bananas, berries, potatoes, beans, and greens like lettuce, and asparagus, but limiting yourself to just these options not only deprives you of essential vitamins and nutrients, but also of tastes you might never have thought to try. So what are some of these less popular items, and what are the added benefits of adding them to your diet? 

While there are dozens of foods you can explore among the various food groups, one family of vegetables known as Cruciferous is a great place to start. Cruciferous vegetables are loaded with nutrients like carotenoids, vitamins like C, E, and K, folate, minerals, and fiber. These vegetables also contain substances called glucosinolates, which are broken down to form active compounds like indole-3-carbinol and are frequently studied for their anticancer effects, most notably their ability to inhibit the formation of blood vessels to cancerous tumors. Cruciferous vegetables are also known to protect cells from DNA damage by inactivating carcinogens, promoting anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antibacterial effects, and, when necessary, inducing cell death (apoptosis). So why wait? Stop by your local grocer to pick up some of these items today, and start eating your way towards a healthier, happier lifestyle.

1. Arugula

Arugula, or Eruca sativa, is a small, low-growing Mediterranean herb that is available annually, but grows best in the cool season. It is loaded with vitamins like A, C, K, and vitamin B-complex, as well as a plentiful source of minerals and anti-oxidants. 

2. Bok choy

Bok choy is a member of the cabbage family, predominantly seen in China, where it is used as a vegetable in many cuisine dishes. It is packed with a total of 21 nutrients, including omega-3s and mineral antioxidants like zinc. Bok choy is also loaded with vitamin A, along with over 70 antioxidant phenolic substances.

3. Broccollini

Very similar to broccoli, but an entirely different veggie altogether, broccollini is also very prevelant in Japan, but also in Brazil and Australia. Broccollini is very high in vitamin C, but also contains a good amount of vitamin A, as well as folate, calcium, and iron. It has a very sweet taste, and is often cooked by steam, sautee, stir-fry, or by boiling.

4. Collard greens

Collard greens belong to the same family of vegetables as kale and broccoli. What sets them apart from their close relatives, however, is their ability to lower cholesterol. Other nutrients and vitamins found in collard greens include vitamins A, C, E, and K, calcium, iron, magnesium, and fiber.

5. Horseradish

Although you might not know what it is, chances are you have at least heard of horseradish before. Horseradish is a root vegetable that is native to Europe and Asia. It is most commonly used as a spice, and contains moderate amounts of sodium, folate, and dietary fiber, but does contain a high concentration of vitamin C.

6. Kale

Kale is known as one of the healthiest plant foods you can find anywhere in the world. It is loaded with antioxidants and other essential vitamins, nutrients, and minerals, particularly vitamins A, C, and K, manganese, copper, calcium, potassium, and magnesium.

7. Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi is often used interchangeably with kale and collard greens, and can be consumed raw or cooked. It is frequently added to salads and slaws, and contains a slightly sweeter taste than broccoli, even thought their textures are similar. Kohlrabi contains smaller concentrations of potassium, and dietary fiber, but like kale, is packed with vitamin C.

8. Rutabaga

Rutabaga is also a root vegetable that likely originated as a cross between cabbage and turnips. Their leaves can be eaten as a green leaf vegetable, but the roots must be baked or boiled, or added as a flavor enhancer to dishes like soup and casserole. One serving of rutabaga contains more than 100% of your suggested daily consumption, but it also contains large amounts of calcium, magnesium, and vitamin B-6. 

9. Watercress

As the name implies, watercress is found in slow-moving water sources like streams and rivers, and belongs to the same family as cabbage and arugula. Watercress is most often used in soups and salads, and is a good source of potassium and vitamins A and C. Because it is found in natural water sources, the preparation process is a bit more extensive, owing to the fact that it must be cleaned of pollutants and carcinogens that may have affected the water supply.

10. Wasabi

Also known as Japanese Horseradish, wasabi is used as a condiment that’s better known for its pungency than anything else. Like watercress, it also grows in slow moving water sources, and so must be cleaned before consumption. Wasabi does not contain a concentrated amount of vitamins, but it is loaded with protein and fiber, making a great natural energy booster.

Remember, cruciferous vegetables are known both for their ability to prevent and lower the affects of cardiovascular disease, and are being studied extensively for their use as anticancer agents. According to the latest research, three servings of these vegetables each week can potentially lower your risk of prostate cancer by 41 percent; one or more servings of cabbage each week can lower your risk of developing pancreatic cancer by 38%, and one serving of cruciferous vegetables a day can your risk of developing breast cancer by more than 50 percent. Sounds great right? So what are you waiting for? Stock up your pantry and refrigerator now, and start eating a healthier diet today.