One family of vegetables that have been proven to be very healthy and nutritious is cruciferous vegetables. These vegetables are all rich in different nutrients.
Cruciferous veggies belong to the Brassicaceae family of plants, otherwise known as Cruciferae . Their flowers have four petals. These four petals resemble a cross.
Also, in most cases, both the leaves and flowers of these vegetables are edible.
Cruciferous Vegetables List
- Choy Sum
- Collard Greens
- Garden Cress
- Bok Choy (Pak Choi)
- Brussels Sprouts
- Land Cress
- Rapini (Broccoli Rabe)
- Komatsuna (Japanese Mustard Spinach)
- Rutabaga (Swede Vegetable)
- Shepherd’s Purse
- Swiss Chard
- Mizuna (Japanese Mustard Greens)
Is spinach a cruciferous vegetable? The answer is no; however, it still has a lot of nutrients that the body needs.
How to Grow
You can grow these veggies from seed. Additionally, like fruits, most of these require full sun to thrive well.
Most are also heavy feeders. Therefore, use lots of compost and aged manure in the soil. Besides, they do well in slightly alkaline soil.
Watch out for pests such as cutworms, aphids, armyworms, harlequin bugs, and cabbage worms. Also, look out for plant diseases such as black rot, Anthracnose, and downy mildew.
Practice crop rotation and companion planting. Plant larger crops with ample space between them as well.
Brassica vegetables are part of the mustard family and also classified as members of the cabbage family. Therefore, for high-yield results, these vegetables grow best in cool weather.
Many can even survive in heavy-winter conditions, including snow. However, the best time to plant most of them is in the fall.
Farmers in warm climates are advised to exercise caution and grow these plants in partial shade so as not to put them under stress. When under stress, cruciferous plants bolt as a means of survival. This is to escape hot weather or other stressful conditions.
Bolting in agriculture is when plants begin to flower right before harvest to produce seeds. Normally, when plants start to bolt, the leaves become bitter-tasting, making them inedible.
Health Benefits of Cruciferous Vegetables
Below is a list of the benefits of eating crucifers.
- Reduce the risk of colon cancer in women. This is due to the glucosinolates they contain .
- May lower inflammation. Certain key compounds in them produce anti-inflammatory effects.
- Regulate blood sugar. Overall, non-starchy leafy green vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower help stabilize blood sugar.
- Weight loss reduction is also seen by the amount of fiber and high water content the veggies contain.
- Enhance heart health. Studies confirm that higher consumption of these vegetables promotes cardiovascular health .
- Promote estrogen balance because of the indole-3-carbinol they contain.
More research is being done to find other health benefits from eating cruciferous vegetables. More research is also needed to solidify the current health benefits.
Cancer, obesity, heart disease, and diabetes are leading health issues facing us today. Therefore, having natural ways to prevent or reduce the effects of these conditions is a good thing.
Cruciferous vegetables aren’t the cure for anything, but they are a start to a healthy lifestyle.
How to Eat (Raw or Cooked)
The best way to eat any vegetable depends on your health status. Eating raw retains all of its nutrients. Unfortunately, a lot of veggies can’t be eaten raw because they’re either too tough or very bitter.
Health experts also say vegetables that belong to the cabbage family should never be eaten raw. Eating raw makes cruciferous foods hard to digest.
Steaming is one of the best methods for cooking vegetables. They are softened by the heat, becoming easier to eat. More importantly, they retain the majority of their nutrients.
You can also broil and roast some. These methods are great ways to soften and flavor foods, and like steaming, the nutrients aren’t cooked out.
Boiling will also cause them to be softer and less bitter; however, many of their nutrients can leach out in the process. Therefore, only boil those that grow underground (turnips, rutabaga, daikon, radish, etc.).
Blanching is best if you are going to freeze them.
Cruciferous plants are amongst the most nutritious foods people can eat. There are so many different kinds of these vegetables, at least one is sure to be your favorite.
If your stomach can digest properly, raw or steamed is the best way to eat them. Even in small amounts, you can reap large amounts of vitamins and minerals from crucifers. Moreover, they are low-calorie, meaning, they can help achieve weight loss.