Cruciferous vegetables are vegetables of the family scientifically known as Brassicaceae. This family includes the well known broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, and bok choy. All cruciferous vegetables have been found in research studies to have many health benefits. However, Brussels sprouts appear to be one of the best options if you choose to eat vegetables from this family. Over 100 research studies have specifically evaluated the benefits of Brussels sprouts with many of them focusing on the anti-cancer qualities of this vegetable. These studies are are available at PubMed.gov, the largest online database of scientific studies. The link between fighting cancer and brussels sprouts is well documented but not well known by the public.
Brussels sprouts: anti-breast cancer phyto chemicals and other healthy ingredients
The cancer protection offered by cruciferous vegetables in general, and Brussels sprouts in particular, is mainly associated with certain nutrients called glucosinolates. Cruciferous vegetables contain four specific glucosinolates: glucoraphanin, glucobrassicin, sinigrin, and gluconasturtiian. Scientists found that Brussels sprouts offer these cancer-fighter chemicals in the perfect combination that can’t be found in the other vegetables form the same family. Also Brussels sprouts have the highest total glucosinolate content on the list of frequently eaten cruciferous vegetables.
Although glucosinolates are the key anti-cancer ingredients, many other healthy substances, vitamins and minerals are found in this super vegetable. Brussel sprouts are rich in phyto chemicals like sulforaphane, isothiocynates, coumarins, dithiolthiones, indoles, and phenols. They also contain high amounts of vitamin C, vitamin K and managenese and are a good source of omega 3 fatty acids, fibers, vitamins like folate, vitamin A, B6, B1, B2, E, B3 and minerals like potassium, iron, phosphorus, molybdenum, magnesium and calcium. All these nutrient and plant chemicals work in tandem.
According to research studies, Brussels sprouts offer special nutrient and antioxidant support for three key body systems that are directly associated with cancer. The first one is the detox system of the body, second one the antioxidant system and the third system is the inflammatory/anti-inflammatory system. Long time imbalances of any of these systems are characteristic to cancers like breast, bladder, colon, lung, prostate and ovarian cancer. Other health conditions that may benefit from regular consumption of Brussels sprouts are cardiovascular diseases, digestive problems, diabetes and arthritis.
How often and how much Brussels sprouts should you consume?
Cruciferous vegetables should be part of your weekly diet. You should consume them at least 3 times a week, and you can include more Brussels sprouts than other vegetables from the same family, if you eating these foods for breast health. Ideally, you should have cruciferous vegetables 4-5 times per week and each serving size should be 1 to 1 ½ cups. While you can consume Brussels sprouts in raw form, it appears that the most anti-cancer benefits are achieved when you lightly steam these vegetables. Be careful not to over cook them because you will loose the nutrients and they will get a bitter taste. You will know if they are cooked too long because cruciferous vegetables emit a sulfur like smell when they are over cooked . The best way to cook them is to cut them into quarters, let them sit for at least five minutes to bring out the health-promoting qualities and steam them for five more minutes.