Cruciferous Vegetables are Cancer-protective

Cruciferous VegetablesI guess mom was right after all: Broccoli is good for us.  In fact, it has been shown in several studies to reduce the risk of developing various forms of cancer including breast, prostate, colon, & lung.  Broccoli is part of the cruciferous vegetable family, which have all been linked to these cancer-protective qualities.  These vegetables include kale, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, and bok choy.

Cruciferous vegetables are one of the dominant food crops worldwide, taking its’ name from the latin root for “cross-bearing”, since the shape of their petals resemble a cross.   Widely considered to be healthy foods, they are high in vitamins A, C & fiber, and contain multiple nutrients and phytochemicals with potential anticancer properties: diindolylmethane, sulforaphane and selenium.  The compounds in these vegetables appear to work similarly to antioxidants in cleaning up and preventing free-radical formation in the cells.  Sulfloraphane, in particular, can stimulate enzymes in the body that detoxify carcinogens before they damage cells. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have discovered 3,3′-diindolylmethane in Brassica vegetables is a strong androgen receptor antagonist in human prostate cancer cells.

Brussels sprouts and broccoli are extremely high in folic acid, which is commonly known to be an important supplement for pregnant mothers to help prevent neural tube defects in their developing fetus.  It’s best to eat these veggies raw or lightly steamed in order to retain the nutritional benefit of the phytochemicals.

~Noah Kaplan, D.C.


Liu B., et al. “Cruciferous vegetables intake and risk of prostate cancer: a meta-analysis”. Int J Urol. 2012 Feb; 19(2): 134-41.

Liu X., LV K. “Cruciferous vegetables intake is inversely associated with risk of breast cancer: A meta-analysis.” Breast. 2012 Aug 6. [Epub ahead of print

Magee, Elaine. “The Super-Veggies: Cruciferous Vegetables.” WebMD. Edited by Louise Chang, M.D.

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