Cruciferous vegetables prime the immune system to be alert, ready, and able to neutralize or kill any possible pathogens and toxins. Internet photo Cruciferous vegetables including brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, collard greens, radishes, cabbage and mustard greens are known for their high fibre content and distinctive taste.
For instance, cauliflower contains a variety of nutrients such as vitamin C, K, protein, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, magnesium, phosphorus, fibre, vitamin B6, folate, potassium and manganese. According to Rebecca Mugala, a nutritionist, these vegetables can be eaten raw or steamed but blending or juicing equally helps.
Cruciferous vegetables are non-starchy vegetables that are rich in glucosinolates that boost immunity and are powerful at fighting cancer.
“They also have anti-microbial properties and are able to inhibit the growth of microorganisms. Sukuma wiki and kale have the highest content of these compounds but because Sukuma wiki is readily available in Uganda, eat it often or use it as an ingredient in smoothies,” Mugala says.
Inflammation is one of the leading factors to chronic illness and incorporating cruciferous vegetables would help reduce the risk of inflammation since these vegetables contain anti- inflammatory nutrients such as sulforaphane.
Boost heart health
Fausta Akech, a nutritionist, says cruciferous vegetables have been found to significantly improve blood pressure and kidney function. They contain vitamin K, which has anti-inflammatory qualities. Regular consumption of these vegetables ensures healthy blood circulation and helps in maintaining the blood vessels.
“This type of vegetables contain compounds that increase natural detoxification enzymes, says Akech. Cabbage water for instance is gentle and cleansing to the digestive system. It stimulates production of liver detoxifying enzymes that help flush out toxins from the body.”
They are also high in beneficial plant compounds and may increase the liver’s natural detoxification enzymes, help protect it from damage and improve blood levels of liver enzymes.
Cruciferous vegetables are a good source of dietary fibre that helps in digestion and promotes the elimination of toxins from the body.
Cauliflower is a good source of choline, a vitamin known for brain development. Its daily intake during pregnancy greatly improves the brain activity by boosting cognitive function and improves memory of the mother. It also reduces age-related memory loss.
“Choline helps with sleep, muscle movement and learning. It helps to maintain the structure of cellular membranes, aids in the transmission of nerve impulses,” Akech says.
When buying cruciferous vegetables, look for a firm head with no dark spots and bright green leaves attached to the stem for cauliflower.
Even for other vegetables, they should look firm and fresh enough. If you have bought cauliflower in large quantities and you do not intend to eat it all at once, keep it in the fridge for utmost five days but cabbage can stay longer than this if it is in a cool dry place.
Rebecca Mugala, a nutritionist, warns that cruciferous vegetables contain gas-causing sugars, so they may cause bloating in some people.
Cooking cruciferous vegetables may make them easier to digest instead of eating them raw. Alternatively, you can eat spinach, cucumbers or lettuce.