Why Cruciferous Vegetables Are An Integral Part Of A Healthy Diet
Regardless of the latest fad diet, there are certain nutritional facts that never change. When it comes to a healthy diet, vegetables remain a staple, not just for weight control and fat loss, but for the health and nutrition benefits they provide. If you want the most bang for your calorie buck, give cruciferous vegetables a try!
What is a cruciferous vegetable, you may ask? From the scientific perspective, they are members of the Brassicaceae family, and are easily recognized by their flower shape, with leaves that resemble a cross. More importantly, they are many of the vegetables we see every day in our local grocery stores. The list includes broccoli, kale, arugula, rutabagas, bok choy, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower, among many others.
A huge advantage of adding these vegetables to your diet is their low calorie count and their high content of vitamins and minerals. This is an invaluable combination for diets and those trying to achieve fat loss. Their high fiber content will leave you feeling fuller, making you less likely to reach for extra snacks and second helpings.
In addition to the vitamins and minerals in these super vegetables, they also contain phytochemicals, including sulforaphane. Sulforaphane is one of the ingredients shown in studies to help reduce risk of breast, lung, colon, cervical and liver cancer. Studies have also shown that diets high in cruciferous vegetables contribute to lower rates of prostate cancer. It is thought that these and other phytochemicals in the vegetables act to combat carcinogens (cancer causing agents) before they do damage to cells.
Another way they fight cancer is with their indole-3-carbidol, also known as IC3. It is believe that these nutrients changes the way they body metabolizes estrogen. It is well know that excess estrogen raises your risk of certain cancers. This can be huge help, as nutrition experts believe that many of the foods prevalent in the American diet today, such as soy, act as faux estrogens.
To best take advantage of the benefits of cruciferous vegetables, they should be eaten raw or lightly steamed. Unless fat loss is a concern, use condiments to counteract the slightly bitter taste some describe with these vegetables. This keeps the nutrition these foods provide intact to be best absorbed by the body. Even something as simple as sea salt and olive oil can keep it healthy and improve the taste to encourage you to add more to your diet.
Experts recommend we get at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day for optimal nutrition. If you make 2 or 3 of these servings a cruciferous vegetable, you’ll be well on your way to a balanced diet full of vitamins and minerals and set yourself up for a consistent, healthy fat loss.