6 Surprising Benefits of Cruciferous Vegetables

This article was originally published by our friend Kate Doubler at RealFood RN

You’re eating your veggies, but are you eating the right ones? Huh? Bet you didn’t know that all veg isn’t created equal. Medical studies continue to prove that cruciferous vegetables give you more benefits for your buck than any other. Today I want to talk about the health benefits of cruciferous vegetables

I’m not talking about fancy, hard-to-find, expensive vegetables. I’m talking about veggies that are readily available, delicious and easy to use in a variety of ways.

  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Kale
  • Radish
  • Rutabaga
  • Turnip
  • Arugula
  • Bok choy

See what I mean? Adding more cruciferous vegetables to our daily nutrition routine is easy and appetizing. But, why should we add more of these into our diet?

Top Health Benefits of Cruciferous Vegetables

Sulforaphane. This plant chemical occurs naturally in cruciferous vegetables and has been studied since 1992 by top medical researchers. It provides the remedy for an unbelievable number of diseases and chronic health issues.

I’m not going to go into all of the specifics about how Sulforaphane works, but I encourage you to watch this video to learn the details. It’s fascinating!

Instead, I want to focus on what these tasty gems can do for our health. Of course, besides Sulforaphane, cruciferous vegetables are also chock-full of vitamins and minerals that provide protection to all of our bodily systems.

Protects Cardiovascular System

Cardiovascular health is one of the main concerns in the West, so wouldn’t it be great to know you were protecting your family’s hearts? Serve up more broccoli. Issues such as heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease are all in some part caused by inflammation of the artery walls. Sulforaphane reduces this inflammation and protects against these major health concerns, as well as obesity. Recent research shows Sulforaphane may protect arteries by boosting the natural defense mechanisms of our bodies.

Improves Depression and Anxiety

Sulforaphane has also been found to produce anti-depressant and anti-anxiety chemicals in the body. Believe it or not, inflammation in the body has been linked to depression and anxiety. For example, feeding broccoli sprouts to mice has proven highly effective in reducing anxiety and depression behaviors. Research in this field continues, and scientists are hopeful that phytochemicals found in cruciferous vegetables will continue to provide the benefits to those who suffer from these pervasive disorders.

Boosts Brain Function

The Sulforaphane found in cruciferous vegetables, along with high values of vitamin K and choline, enhances cognitive function. Of course, higher brain function benefits our daily lives, but Sulforaphane may also prevent common aging diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. Cognitive functions, such as memory and mental stamina, have been improved in clinical trials, along with relief from mental exhaustion. Studies suggest that the high amount of antioxidants found in cruciferous vegetables improves tissue detoxification and function while choline encourages new brain cell growth.

Treats Diabetes and Insulin Resistance

Due to its ability to lower oxidation and inflammation in the body, Sulforaphane is an essential addition to everyone’s diet. It’s especially important for those with diabetes or insulin resistance, or those who have a high disposition for developing these chronic illnesses. Sulforaphane creates protective enzymes in the body that reduce the amount of cell damage caused by diabetes. It also prevents blood vessel damage, which is the cause of heart disease in so many diabetics.

Encourages Detoxification

With the pervasiveness of toxins in our environment, it’s vital to our health to find ways to continuously detoxify our bodies. Sulforaphane has been proven to increase the body’s elimination of toxins such as air pollution, arsenic, and pesticides. Various phytonutrients found in cruciferous vegetables improve the body’s entire detoxification process, which improves our overall health and well-being. Keeping our bodies free of toxins means better circulation, digestion, immunity, energy levels and metabolism.

Pain Relief

In research studies, participants with chronic pain, such as those suffering from fibromyalgia, found a diet high in cruciferous vegetables reduced their pain sensitivity. Other studies show promising findings with pain-blocking abilities of Sulforaphane.


Thanks to a lot of powerful antioxidants and the anti-inflammatory properties of Sulforaphane, more attention is being given to the addition of cruciferous vegetables in cancer patients’ diets. Sulforaphane is somehow able to regulate various cell processes and select malignant cells to transform. The compounds in Cruciferous Vegetables, such as broccoli, seem to perform a complex series of epigenetics which even prevents cancerous cells from forming. Other studies found these vegetables have the ability to prevent the development of tumors and to reduce the size of tumors by up to 75 percent. Sulforaphane has been studied for the prevention and treatment of stomach, bladder, breast, prostate, lung, colon, and skin cancers.

Clearly, one way we can reduce our chances of developing some of the most common and deadly diseases is to eat more cruciferous vegetables.

Bon Appétit!

If you do not like eating cruciferous vegetables, they even have supplements that you can take which contain the powerful health benefits that these vegetables contain. I actually take this one daily just to be safe.


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