Cruciferous Vegetables and Cancer
If you hear the term "Cruciferous" and think to yourself "...is that a religious ceremony or something?" then this article is for you.
We first heard the term in the weeks after Rachel's diagnosis as we began the long and arduous task of determining and implementing healthy diet changes. If you have cancer or know someone who does, it's a term you should familiarize yourself with, because it could have some huge impacts on cancers of all kinds!
So if it's not a religious ceremony, then what does Cruciferous mean? it actually refers to a family of vegetables that share a similar chemical makeup. More specifically, they all have a set of compounds called glucosinolates, which have one really important thing in common: they are powerful cancer-fighting wizards.
Lots of vegetables you already eat are in the cruciferous family and you probably didn't even know it. Broccoli, Cauliflower, Artichokes, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, etc. All of these are cruciferous vegetables and have different types of glucosinolates in varying levels.
How do Cruciferous Vegetables fight cancer?
When you eat cruciferous vegetables, glucosinolates break down to smaller compounds, which are associated with decreased inflammation, lowering the risk of cancer. Traditional population-based studies have found strong links between greater consumption of cruciferous vegetables and lowered risk of lung, colorectal, stomach, breast, prostate, and other cancers. More recent research suggests that the compounds found in cruciferous vegetables “turn on” genes that suppress tumors, slowing tumor growth, and stimulate self-destruction of cancer cells (apoptosis). In addition, glucosinolates may stimulate enzymes that deactivate carcinogens and decrease cancer cells’ ability to spread.
One of the byproducts of this process is sulforaphane and is found specifically in broccoli, and has been shown to thwart the development and progression of many different types of cancer. This is why we include a broccoli seed sprouting kit in the first month of the Cancer Box, because of the sprouts' especially high sulforaphane content.
What is your favorite way to eat cruciferous veggies?