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Cruciferous Vegetables List – Cancer Prevention and Cancer Fighting Veggies

Updated on October 13, 2012

Many scientific studies have presented the health benefits of the cruciferous vegetables and their link to lower risks of developing cancer. Research on the health benefits of Cruciferous vegetables have been so compelling and convincing that it has been hard to find anyone willing to debate the issue. In October 1996 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, a research has shown that more than 70% of the studies found its correlation with lower cancer rates with increased consumption of cruciferous vegetables. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, strong scientific evidences have shown cruciferous vegetables’ ability to stop cancer cell growth for tumors in the uterine lining (endometrium), breast, lung, liver, colon, and cervix. Studies has also shown men who consume 3 or more servings of cruciferous vegetables had a 41% reduced risk of developing prostate cancer, compare to those that consume only one or less a week.

Cruciferous Vegetables - Best Cancer-fighting Vegetables

Sainte-Justine Hospital in Montreal has conducted a study and discovered that cruciferous vegetables have the best cancer-fighting potential out of 34 vegetables tested. The reason is these vegetables contain the highest level of glucosinolates, a chemicals that protect your cells against free radical damage.

Scientific studies have shown that sulforaphane, one of the phytochemicals found in cruciferous vegetables can stimulate enzymes in the body that detoxify carcinogens before they damage cells.

Indole 3-carbinol and crambene, two other compounds found in cruciferous vegetables have also been suspected of activating detoxification enzymes.

What is cruciferous vegetables?

Cruciferous vegetables are from the vegetable family, Brassicaceae, also called Cruciferae, meaning “cross bearing”. It is named so due to its flower shape, whose four petals resemble a cross. The commonly consumed cruciferous vegetables and their health benefits are listed below.


Brocolli and its Health Benefits

  • Diet rich in broccoli can help to prevent bladder, ovarian, prostate, colon, breast and lung cancers.
  • With glycemic index of zero, it aids in diabetes control by regulating the blood sugar level.
  • Rich in soluble and insoluble dietary fiber, eating brocolli helps toimprove digestion, lose weight, and reduce the risk of getting heart disease.
  • Brocolli is a good milk replacement food, since it has high calcium content needed for stronger bones, better bone health and growth.
  • Brocolli is a rich source of Vitamin C and beta carotene, a great boost for body immune system, aids in anti-viral and anti-bacterial activity.
  • Phytonutrients in broccoli is a good source antioxidants that help to fight free radicals.
  • Sulphoraphane in broccoli can repair sun damaged skin, a good anti-agingvegetable.
  • Sulphoraphane in broccoli has detoxifying abilities for better liver health and better-looking skin.


Cauliflower and its Health Benefits

  • Cauliflower can help to prevent prostate, breast, cervical, colon, ovarian cancers.
  • It is effective as immune modulator, promoting anti-bacterial and anti-viral activity.
  • Fresh cauliflower is excellent source of vitamin C.
  • A good source of antioxidant, it helps to fight against harmful free radicals, boosts immunity and protect the body from infections and cancers.
  • Cauliflower is a good source of many essential B-complex group of vitamins such as pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), folate, pyridoxine (vitamin B6), thiamin (vitamin B1), niacin (B3) and vitamin K.
  • It is also a good source of minerals such as iron, copper, manganese, calcium and potassium.

Chinese Cabbage
Chinese Cabbage

Bok Choy (Chinese Cabbage) and its Health Benefits

  • Eating Bok Choy helps to protect against breast, colon and prostate cancers.
  • Bok Choy is a rich source of phyto-nutrients, vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants.
  • With its zero calorie or negative calorie, eating Bok Choy will not gain weight but in turn facilitate calorie burning and weight reduction.
  • It has more vitamin A, carotenes, and other flavonoid polyphenolic anti-oxidants than other cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage and cauliflower.
  • A good source of Vitamin K, Bok Choy aids in bone metabolism by promoting osteotrophic activity in bone cells, increasing bone health and strength, and delaying osteoporosis process. Sufficient Vitamin K will also limit neuronal damage in Alzheimer's disease patients’ brain.
  • It is also a rich source of the vital Vitamin B-complex such as pyridoxine (vitamin B6), riboflavin, pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), pyridoxine and thiamin (vitamin B-1).
  • It also contains good amount of minerals like calcium, potassium, phosphorus, iron, manganese and magnesium. Potassium is essential for heart and blood pressure rate control. Iron is needed for the formation the red blood cell in the body.


Cabbage and its Health Benefits

  • Scientific studies have shown that people with diet rich in cabbage have low rate of colon cancer. Cabbage is a powerful colon cancer prevention vegetable. Cabbage contains lactic acid that can act to disinfect colon.
  • Studies have also indicated that increased cabbage intake may inhibit the metastatic capacity of breast cancer, and hence lower the risk of developing breast cancer.
  • Glucosinolates , the anti-cancer properties in the cabbage work primarily by increasing antioxidant defence mechanisms, improving the body’s ability to detoxify and eliminate harmful chemicals and hormones.
  • The cabbage is a good source of estrogen detoxification food since it accelerates the body’s metabolism of estrogen. It reduces the incidence of breast, uterine and ovarian cancer, and reduces the growth of cysts (endometriosis) and fibroid in women.
  • An anti- inflammation vegetable, eating cabbage can reduce the menstrual pain for endometriosis sufferer.
  • Cabbage is also a natural headache reliever.

Brussels Sprouts
Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts and its Health Benefits

  • Brussels sprouts contain Glucosinolates and detox-activating isothiocyanates which have been shown to fight against and prevent various cancers, such as bladder, breast, colon, lung, prostate, and ovarian cancer.
  • Studies have also shown that certain compounds in Brussels sprouts can block the activity of sulphotransferase enzymes which can be detrimental to the health and stability of DNA within white blood cells.
  • The high fiber content of Brussels sprouts can work to reduce our cholesterol by binding with bile acids that the liver produces from cholesterol for digesting fat.
  • Brussels sprouts contains healthy dose of flavonoid antioxidants like isorhamnetin, quercitin, and kaempferol that aids to protect the body’s cells against oxidative stress.
  • Glucobrassicin, a glucosinolate which is abundant in Brussels sprouts, is a powerful substance to fight inflammation on genetic level. The rich source of vitamin K available in Brussels sprouts can also effectively regulate our body's inflammatory responses.
  • Isothiocyanate sulforaphane in Brussels sprouts is a powerful compound to trigger anti-inflammatory activity in our cardiovascular system. It may prevent and possibly help reverse blood vessel damage. With inflammation regulated within the body, Brussels sprouts can fight against the onset of heart attacks, ischemic heart disease, and arteriosclerosis.
  • The sulforaphane in Brussels spouts can also protects our stomach lining by obstructing the overgrowth of Helicobacter pylori, a bacteria that can cause gastric cancer.

Water Cress
Water Cress
Water Cress
Water Cress

Watercress and its Health Benefits

  • Scientific studies have found the correlation between watercress intake to reduced rate of cancer risks in smokers and non-smokers alike. A study has also found daily intake ofr watercress can significantly lower DNA damage to white blood cells.
  • Taking watercress is also effective in cleaning the blood, strengthens the digestive system and the kidneys. It can also dissolve the mucous in the throat.
  • Watercress contains micronutrients that work together with the antioxidants to fight free radicals in the body.


Kale and its Health Benefits

  • With antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities, as well as the presence of glucosinolates in kale, this root vegetable has shown its effectiveness in colon, breast, bladder, prostate, ovary and stomach cancer prevention.
  • Kale is a wonderful source of antioxidants - carotenoids and flavonoids, protect our cells from free radicals that cause oxidative stress. Flavonoids kaempferol and quercitin as well as 45 other distinctive flavonoids in kale have also been shown to specifically fight against the formation of cancerous cells. With the addition of a good amount of antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin A, and manganese, kale is certainly a powerful food in the battle against cellular oxidation.

Raddish - a strong detoxification and anti carcinogenic food
Raddish - a strong detoxification and anti carcinogenic food

Radish and its Health Benefits

  • Rich in folic acid, anthocyanins and Vitamin C, radish is very effective in fighting cancer especially in fighting against oral, colon, intestinal, stomach and kidney cancers.
  • Radish is also effective in relieving congestion within the respiratory system; an excellent food for people who suffer from asthma, bronchial infections and sinus problems.
  • With its sulphur based chemicals content, it helps to regulate the production and flow of bilirubin and bile, enzymes and acids and aids in removing excess bilirubin from the blood. Hence, it is an excellent detoxifying agent for the body; protects and soothes the gallbladder and liver, protecting them from infections.

  • Radish is strongly diuretic, making it effective in preventing and fighting against urinary tract infections. Since radish cleanse the kidney, taking radish juice can cure the burning feeling during urinary tract or bladder infections. In addition to that, the mustard oil content of the radish makes it a medicinal food for expelling gallstones from the bladder.
  • With its detoxifying and anti carcinogenic properties, radish seeds can be used in Leucoderma treatment. The seeds are powdered and soaked in vinegar or ginger juice and thereafter use it to apply on the white patches. Eating the radish will also be helpful in Leucoderma treatment.


Kohlrabi (knol-khol or German Turnip) and its Health Benefits

  • Kohlrabi can protect against prostate and colon cancers.
  • This stem vegetable contains a good amount of many B-complex group of vitamins such as niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamine and pantothenic acid, required as co-factors to enzymes during various metabolisms in the body.
  • The stem of Kohlrabi contains good levels of minerals such as copper, calcium, potassium, manganese, iron, and phosphorus.
  • Kohlrabi leaves are abundant in carotenes, vitamin A, vitamin K, minerals, and B-complex group of vitamins.
  • High in indoles chemicals, it helps to reduce the effects of estrogens in woman’s body, reducing the risk of getting breast cancer and endometriosis symptoms.
  • Kohlrabi is high in dietary fiber, especially the insoluble cellulose and lignin, found in stems, leaves, roots, seeds and peel.
  • Kohlrabi is an excellent source of vitamin C.

How much is enough ?

According to the American Cancer Society, up to 35% of all cancer deaths may be prevented simply by following the suitable diet. For cancer prevention, cancer research institutes have recommended consuming at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day, which should include any one of the cruciferous vegetables.


Generally, some of the above cruciferous vegetables, such as turnip, contain oxalic acid, which may crystallize as oxalate stones in the urinary tract. Hence, people with known oxalate urinary tract stones may have to avoid or minimize the intake. To minimize the stone risk, adequate intake of water is important to maintain normal urine output in these individuals.


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© Ingenira 2011


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