It's the season of broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower, vegetables that, when eaten on a regular basis, have been linked with a lower risk of heart attack, stroke and colon and breast cancers.
The health benefits of these vegetables - a.k.a. cruciferous vegetables - are largely attributed to phytochemicals called glucosinolates. Once consumed, glucosinolates are converted to active compounds called isothiocyanates and indoles which have anti-cancer, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
An enzyme in cruciferous vegetables, called myrosinase, converts glucosinolates to isothiocyanates when they’re chopped or chewed. This enzyme is destroyed by heat, though, so overcooking your broccoli will reduce its disease-fighting potential.
To reap the health benefits of cruciferous vegetables, you need to eat the real thing raw, lightly cooked, or steamed until still crunchy.
Use my tips below to boost your intake of locally-grown cruciferous vegetables this fall. Aim for at least five servings per week.
- Sprinkle fresh lemon juice and sesame seeds over lightly steamed broccoli.
- Top a pizza, homemade or frozen, with steamed broccoli florets.
- Add chopped broccoli florets to omelettes and frittatas.
- Snack on raw broccoli florets with hummus dip.
- Add Brussels sprouts, halved lengthwise, to a stir-fry.
- Try roasted Brussels sprouts, a big hit even with people who typically dislike this vegetable. Place sprouts, halved lengthwise, face up in a shallow baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil, season with pepper. Bake at 400F for 20 to 25 minutes.
- Combine halved cooked Brussels sprouts with toasted walnuts and goat cheese for a delicious side dish.
- Shred Brussels sprouts and add to soups and stews.
- Braise red cabbage with chopped apple and red wine. (The alcohol evaporates during cooking.)
- Use cabbage leaves to wrap your next taco or burrito.
- Add shredded cabbage to sandwiches as a change from lettuce.
- Mix shredded red cabbage into a green salad for added colour.
- Serve steamed cauliflower dusted with grated Parmesan cheese.
- Add cauliflower florets to curry recipes, pasta sauces and soups near the end of cooking.
- Lightly sauté cauliflower florets with garlic and minced fresh ginger. Or sauté it with a pinch of turmeric or saffron.
- Add raw cauliflower florets to a vegetables platter and serve with a healthy dip.
All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.