Vegetables are one of the important intakes to meet daily nutritional needs. There are various types of nutrient-rich vegetables, one of which is cruciferous vegetables .
What Are Cruciferous Vegetables? Benefits and Nutritional Value
Yes, although the name is quite foreign and not everyone has heard of it, this vegetable is actually very easy to find everywhere.
What are cruciferous vegetables?
Cruciferous vegetables are vegetables that belong to the Brassica plant group. This type of vegetable has a distinctive petal like cabbage.
Not surprisingly, this vegetable group is also often referred to as the cabbage family. Cruciferous vegetables are grown in Asia, Europe, the Mediterranean, and North America.
Besides cabbage, examples of cruciferous vegetables that are often found in Indonesia are:
- cauliflower ,
- pakcoy, dan
- water salad .
What are the nutritional content of cruciferous vegetables ?
There are various nutritional content that can be obtained from cruciferous vegetables . Not surprisingly, this type of vegetable has been named a superfood or a source of nutrient-dense food.
This is the content you can find.
- fiber ,
- vitamin C,
- vitamin E,
- vitamin K,
- zeaxanthin , and
- carotenoids , such as beta-carotene.
This vegetable also has a unique compound, namely glucosinolate. It is these compounds that give cruciferous vegetables their slightly bitter taste and pungent aroma.
Benefits of cruciferous vegetables
As a nutrient- dense food , here are the various benefits of cruciferous vegetables that you can get.
1. Reduce the risk of cancer
If you are looking for the health benefits of cruciferous vegetables , these are the benefits to be had.
When chewing and digesting this vegetable, the glucosinolate content will be broken down and produce new compounds, namely indole , nitrile, thiocyanate, and isothiocyanate.
Several types of compounds from indole and isothiocyanate, namely indole-3-carbinole and sulforaphane are known to have anticancer properties.
Both compounds work against cancer in the following ways.
- Protects body cells from DNA damage.
- Turn off cancer-causing compounds or carcinogens .
- Antiviral and antibacterial.
- Reduce inflammation .
- Accelerate cancer cell death.
- Inhibits the growth of cancer cells by inhibiting the formation of blood vessels in abnormal tissues so that cancer cells are not nourished.
A study published in the journal Nutrition and Cancer (2020) states that consuming cruciferous vegetables has the potential to reduce the risk of stomach cancer .
This study found that the glucosinolates present in broccoli , cauliflower, and cabbage help fight infection with the Helicobacter pylori bacteria .
These bacteria make the stomach inflamed which can increase the risk of stomach cancer.
Not only that, studies also prove that cruciferous vegetables reduce the risk of ovarian cancer, endometrial cancer, and cervical cancer.
The reason is, these types of vegetables contain various phytochemical compounds (specific compounds in plants), such as flavonoids , carotenoids, and glucosinolates, which work as antioxidants.
Antioxidants can counteract free radicals that damage body cells, making them susceptible to cancer.
However, researchers still need further research to prove the efficacy of these benefits.
2. Maintain heart health
Vegetable intake has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease. This benefit is also reinforced by research published in the journal The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2011).
This research found that long-term consumption of cruciferous vegetables also reduced the risk of death from heart disease by 20–27 percent.
The content of sulforaphane produced after consuming cruciferous vegetables reduces inflammation and oxidative stress or cell damage caused by free radicals .
Both can increase the risk of plaque blockage in blood vessels.
Not only that, cruciferous vegetables are rich in vitamin K which is no less good for heart health.
Vitamin K also works to suppress inflammation in the heart. These nutrients prevent blood clots and the buildup of calcium that causes blockage of blood vessels.
If blood vessel blockage occurs, a person is susceptible to cardiovascular diseases , such as:
- coronary heart disease,
- atherosclerosis , and
- bleeding in the brain.
Things to consider before consuming cruciferous vegetables
Despite the potential benefits of this type of vegetable, people with too little thyroid hormone ( hypothyroidism ) should be careful about eating cruciferous vegetables.
The reason, this vegetable contains progoitrin compounds. These compounds are broken down in the body and produce a new compound called goitrin. Goitrin is what interferes with thyroid hormone production.
Other compounds resulting from the breakdown of glucosinate can also lower iodine levels. If the body lacks iodine , this triggers and worsens hypothyroidism.
However, these side effects can be reduced by consuming them in moderation and cooking them. The cooking process has been shown to reduce progoitrin levels in this type of vegetable.
The benefits of cruciferous vegetables are mostly derived from glucosinolate compounds.
However, its potential still has to be investigated further because the research results are not yet consistent.
For that, make sure you also eat other foods to enrich your daily nutrients. Avoid consuming these vegetables to replace medicines from the doctor.