We all know that to be healthy we should eat more vegetables. But did you know that some vegetables are better for you than others? If you want a meal that packs a nutritional punch, add some cruciferous vegetables to your plate. Not only are they known as anti-cancer powerhouses, but their consumption has been associated with reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and increasing longevity. The reason lies in the unique phytochemical found in cruciferous vegetables.
The heart and soul of Cruciferous Vegetables is that they have the ability to activate a powerful transcription factor, called Nrf2, within each cell of our body. This protein stimulates production of our body’s own antioxidant enzymes which offer protection against inflammation. Nrf2 works by binding a specific sequence present in genes called the Antioxidant Response Element (ARE). Nrf2 travels to the nucleus of the cell to induce that cell to produce natural antioxidant enzymes and protect against inflammation and reduce oxidative stress, a known cause of cardiovascular disease.
What are cruciferous vegetables?
Broadly, cruciferous vegetables belong to the Crucifer family, which mostly contains the Brassica genus, but does include a few other geniuses. In general, cruciferous vegetables are cool weather vegetables and have flowers that have four petals so that they resemble a cross. In most cases, the leaves or flower buds of cruciferous vegetables are eaten, but there are a few where either the roots or seeds are also eaten. Because these vegetables belong to the same family, they tend to be susceptible to the same diseases and pests.
Here are just a few of these Beneficial Vegetables we should be eating daily. Bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprout, Kale, Radish, Turnip greens, Rutabaga, Mustard greens, Cabbage, Collards, Radish, Cauliflower, horseradish, and Brussels.
I include a variety of longevity-promoting cruciferous vegetables, both raw and lightly cooked in my diet daily and you should, too. My job is to inform and motivate everyone to achieve superior health, and to make it taste delicious, too.
For more information, on adding vegetables to your already healthy diets contact Lethia Lee, Sampson County Cooperative Extension Office at 910-592-7161.
Leitha Lee is the EFNEP Program Assistant for the Expanded Food Nutrition Education Program with the Sampson County Cooperative Extension Center.