I guess mom was right — eating your broccoli really is good for you. A recent study by the Linus Pauling Institute, in coordination with Oregon State University, found evidence that broccoli and other plants in the cabbage family (Cruciferae) have significant cancer prevention properties, due to certain sulfur containing compounds (isothiocyanates) which these plants contain.
Our bodies are able to utilize these sulfurous compounds to inhibit the growth of cancer, and in some cases, destroy cancerous cells through a process called apoptosis. The compounds have also been shown to reduce the cancerous effects of carcinogens such as procarcinogen, which is found in tobacco.
Vegetables Can Stop Cancer Before It Starts
The protective qualities of isothiocyanates have also been shown to protect our bodies from cancer even before cancerous DNA mutations have formed. It protects the body from cancer in two ways; first, these substances have shown antibacterial effects against Helicobactor Pylori (including anti-biotic resistant varieties), a major contributor to stomach ulcers, and a possible precusor to stomach cancer.
In one study eating 11 oz. of brussel spouts over the course of just one week completely eradicated Helicobacter Pylori in 3 of 9 patients suffering from gastritis. Isothiocyanates also have proven anti-inflammatory effects upon our bodies. Inflammation can increase the risk of developing cancer.
How To Cook Broccoli/Cabbage Family Vegetables
According to the Linus Pauling Institute, the way you cook these vegetables also makes a difference. If you are trying to extract the greatest quantity of isothiocyanates, light steaming or briefly microwaving seems to be the best, while boiling and high power microwaving is not ideal.
The report did not mention the many benefits from sauerkraut, one of my favorite ways to eat cabbage. Being from the South, I also noticed that they failed to recommend battered and deep fat frying methods, or the health benefits from slathering vegetables in lots of sugary ketchup.
Best Sources of Cancer Preventing Raw Vegetables
Cruciferous plants are named for their beautiful flowers, which look like a cross. The Cruciferae family contains many different vegetables, all of which have varying quantities of isothiocyanate cancer preventing precursors (glucosinolates). Below is a list of the best sources of cancer preventing crucifers:
Brussel sprouts: 104 mgs per 1/2 cup Serving
Garden cress: 98 mgs per 1/2 cup Serving
Mustard greens: 79 mgs per 1/2 cup Serving
Kale: 67 mgs per 1/2 cup Serving
Turnips: 60 mgs per 1/2 cup Serving
Savoy cabbage: 35 mgs per 1/2 cup Serving
Watercress: 32 mgs per 1/2 cup Serving
Kohlrabi: 31 mgs per 1/2 cup Serving
Red cabbage: 29 mgs per 1/2 cup Serving
Broccoli: 27 mgs per 1/2 cup Serving
Horseradish: 24 mgs per 1/2 cup Serving
Cauliflower: 22 mgs per 1/2 cup Serving
Bok choy/Pak choi: 19 mgs per 1/2 cup Serving
A few recipes that look delicious:linda N. Photo of cabbage by Jasmine&Roses Photo of child with Kale by Woodleywonderworks Photo of kohl rabi by Simon Blackley Photo of brussel sprouts by Elaine with Grey Cats Photo of crucifer flower by Northbay Wanderer Photo of Cress by Girl Interupted Eating