Want to eat healthier and look younger? Perhaps looking for a great-tasting, satisfying crunch to add to your meals? Look no further than cruciferous vegetables, also sometimes called “super-vegetables.”
Cruciferous vegetables, which include broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, and bok choy, earned their “super” status by being rich sources of fabulous phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. And, since they are also brimming with great taste, they make wonderful additions to your family’s meals every day.
The properties of these crunchy “super-veggies” offer a number of healthful effects, including the apparent ability to stem pre-cancerous cell mutation. In fact, some laboratory studies indicate that sulforaphane, which is one of the naturally-occurring phytochemicals found in cruciferous vegetables, can stimulate enzymes that detoxify carcinogens before they can damage cells. Other cruciferous phytochemicals appear to support this amazing ability.
Another important benefit of including cruciferous veggies in your daily diet is found in their powerful antioxidant properties. Now, you might wonder why antioxidants are such an integral component of glowing good health.
To help your body protect itself from the rigors of oxidation, Mother Nature provides thousands of different antioxidants in various amounts in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts. When your body needs to put up its best defense, especially true in today’s environment, antioxidants are crucial to your health.
As oxygen interacts with cells of any type – an apple slice or, in your body, the cells lining your lungs or in a cut on your skin — oxidation occurs. This produces some type of change in those cells. They may die, such as with rotting fruit. In the case of cut skin, dead cells are replaced in time by fresh, new cells, resulting in a healed cut.
This birth and death of cells in the body goes on continuously, 24 hours a day. It is a process that is necessary to keep the body healthy.
Yet there is a downside. While the body metabolizes oxygen very efficiently, one or two percent of cells will get damaged in the process and turn into free radicals.
Now, “free radicals” is a term often used to describe damaged cells that can be problematic. They are “free” because they are missing a critical molecule, which sends them on a rampage to pair with another molecule. These molecules will rob any molecule to quench that need.
When free radicals are on the attack, they don’t just kill cells to acquire their missing molecule. If free radicals simply killed a cell, it wouldn’t be so bad… the body could just regenerate another one. The problem is, free radicals often injure the cell, damaging the DNA, which creates the seed for disease.
When a cell’s DNA changes, the cell becomes mutated. It grows abnormally and reproduces abnormally — and quickly.
Antioxidants work to stop this damaging, disease-causing chain reaction that free radicals have started. Each type of antioxidant works either to prevent the chain reaction or stop it after it’s started.
This is particularly important because free radicals have been linked to diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and about sixty other diseases. These free radicals are also considered to be a primary cause of premature aging.
By reducing the body’s overload of free radicals, the delightful crunch of crucifers can help protect your body from disease while also providing marvelous anti-aging benefits.
All in all, the evidence is strong that eating cruciferous vegetables is a particularly healthful choice. Plus, they taste great!
Tips for enjoying cruciferous vegetables To maximize taste and nutrition, here are some handy tips for buying and preparing cruciferous vegetables:
- As with all veggies, do not overcook cruciferous vegetables.
- For extra flavor and color pizzazz, include dark green broccoli and snowy white cauliflower in your next veggie tray.
- Give your green salad a nutritious boost with raw broccoli and cauliflower florets.
- For quick and easy nutrition, check out the fresh or frozen bagged, ready-to-go broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts available at your local grocery store.
- When buying fresh broccoli, always look for florets that are firm and have a purple, dark green or bluish hue on top. These contain higher concentrations of beta carotene and vitamin C than their light green counterparts. Also if the broccoli has yellow in the florets or is limp, these are signs that the produce is far from fresh.
Also remember to also include a high-quality nutritional supplement. If your family is like most, they simply do not consume the recommended five to eight servings of vegetables every day. Because of this, I strongly recommend that children and adults alike incorporate a high-quality nutritional supplement into their daily diet.
Personally, I feel that liquid supplements are the best choice, primarily because they are typically absorbed into the body’s cells much more effectively than pills. Plus, pill-form supplements often contain binders and fillers that give the pills their shape, and preservatives that enhance product shelf life. These collateral ingredients can actually prevent the vitamins, minerals and any other nutrients in the supplements from being effectively absorbed in the upper small intestine. This is due to the slower disintegration of binders, fillers, and preservatives in the stomach.
Additionally, liquid nutritional supplements are often much easier to ingest than their pill-form counterparts. Liquids are also a great option for those individuals who simply do not want to be burdened with taking handfuls of pills every day, as liquid nutritional supplements are usually more concentrated.
When selecting the nutritional supplement that is right for you, be sure to investigate the product’s ORAC score. ORAC stands for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity and it is a proven method of measuring the antioxidant capacities of different foods. This antioxidant testing method was developed in 1992 at the National Institutes of Aging. ORAC antioxidant scoring is so accurate that it has been adopted by the USDA Human Nutrition Center on Aging.
So, for great health and increased longevity, be sure to include the delectable crunch of fresh cruciferous vegetables into your daily meals and also incorporate a good liquid nutritional supplement into your morning routine.