Cruciferous Vegetables & Sulforaphane

Cruciferous Vegetables

Raw versus Cooked?  Can we still get the same benefits from these cruciferous vegetables when we cook them?

The most common cruciferous vegetables are:

Arugula, Bok choy, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Chard, Chinese cabbage, Collard greens, Daikon, Horseradish, Kale, Kohlrabi, Mustard greens, Radishes, Rutabagas, Turnips, Watercress, Wasabi.

Research of this family of vegetables indicates that they may provide protection against certain cancers. Cruciferous vegetables contain antioxidants (particularly beta-carotene and the compound sulforaphane). They are high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Cruciferous vegetables also contain indole-3-carbidol (I3C). This element changes the way estrogen is metabolized and may prevent estrogen driven cancers.

Cruciferous vegetables also contain a kind of phytochemical known as isothiocyanates, which stimulate our bodies to break down potential carcinogens (cancer causing agents). One of the powerful enzymes in cruciferous vegetables is sulforaphane, which is a protective phytochemical and powerful antioxidant. It has been shown to protect against neurodegenerative diseases. Prevent and fight cancer. It has also been shown to target breast cancer stem cells.

The science:

It is produced when the enzyme myrosinase transforms glucoraphanin, a glucosinolate, into sulforaphane upon damage to the plant (such as from chewing), which allows the two compounds to mix and react. This is great, however, many people have a hard time eating “raw” cruciferous vegetables. Aside from being very fibrous to chew, many people experience digestive issues when consuming them raw.

It is known that heating cruciferous veggies prevented the formation of any significant levels of sulforaphane due to total inactivation of Myrosinase which is required for the activation of Sulforaphane.

Adding, a small amount of mustard powder, which provides a natural source of the myrosinase enzyme needed to convert glucoraphanin to sulforaphane, significantly increased the formation of sulforaphane.

The results has the same benefits as eating them raw.

Dr. Greger explains:

Additional Information

The National Institute of Health via The National Cancer Institute report: “Studies in animals and experiments with cells grown in the laboratory have identified several potential ways in which these compounds may help prevent cancer”

  • They help protect cells from DNA damage.
  • They help inactivate carcinogens.
  • They have antiviral and antibacterial effects.
  • They have anti-inflammatory effects.
  • They induce cell death (apoptosis).
  • They inhibit tumor blood vessel formation (angiogenesis) and tumor cell migration (needed for metastasis).


Hypothyroid warning & how to safely consume cruciferous vegetables

People who have hypothyroid function should steam cruciferous vegetables.

Raw cruciferous vegetables contain thyroid inhibitors known as goitrogens. Goitrogens like circumstances that cause goiter, cause difficulty for the thyroid in making its hormone. Isothiocyanates appear to reduce thyroid function by blocking thyroid peroxidase, and also by disrupting messages that are sent across the membranes of thyroid cells.

“Better health, Better Life,  Through better understanding”

 Chef Jeff

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