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Cruciferous Vegetables (Ultimate List)

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Cruciferous Vegetables (Ultimate List & Guide)

One family of vegetables that has been proven to be very healthy and nutritious is the cruciferous family. These vegetables are all rich in different nutrients.

Cruciferous veggies belong to the Brassicaceae family of plants, otherwise known as Cruciferae [1]. Their flowers usually have four petals.

Also, in most cases, both the leaves and flowers of these vegetables are edible.

List of Cruciferous Vegetables

  • Arugula
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Kale
  • Choy Sum
  • Collard Greens
  • Garden Cress
  • Bok Choy (Pak Choi)
  • Horseradish
  • Kohlrabi
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cauliflower
  • Rapini (Broccoli Rabe)
  • Komatsuna (Japanese Mustard Spinach)
  • Rutabaga (Swede)
  • Swiss Chard
  • Tatsoi
  • Turnips
  • Radish
  • Mizuna (Japanese Mustard Greens)
  • Wasabi
  • Watercress

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 seeds or seedlings. Start by selecting a location with plenty of sunlight and well-drained soil.

Next, prepare the soil by tilling it and adding organic matter such as compost or aged manure. Plant your seeds according to the instructions on the seed packet.

Water your plants regularly and fertilize them every three weeks. Also, keep the soil moist but not soggy. Mulch around the plants to help retain moisture and keep weeds at bay.

Watch out for pests such as caterpillars, aphids, cutworms, and cabbage worms as well. Plus, look out for plant diseases such as black rot, club root, and downy mildew.

And don’t forget to practice crop rotation and companion planting.

Growing Conditions

Brassica vegetables are part of the mustard family and are 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 spring and 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 tend to 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

Cruciferous vegetables are a powerhouse of nutrition and health benefits. They are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which help protect our bodies from disease and illness.

These veggies are also known to be anti-inflammatory and can help reduce the risk of certain cancers. Plus, they are high in dietary fiber, which helps reduce cholesterol levels, regulate blood sugar levels, and promote digestive health.

Below is a list of more benefits of eating these vegetables.

  • May reduce the risk of colon cancer in women. This is due to the glucosinolates they contain [2].
  • May lower inflammation. Certain key compounds in these vegetables 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 aided by the amount of fiber and high water content the vegetables contain.
  • Enhance heart health. Studies confirm that higher consumption of these vegetables promotes cardiovascular health [3].
  • 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.

Crucifers 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, not all veggies can be eaten raw because some can be hard to digest.

Health experts also say vegetables that belong to the cabbage family should be eaten raw only in small amounts. Eating cruciferous foods raw may also cause digestive issues in some people [4].

Steaming is one of the best methods for cooking vegetables. They are softened by the heat, making them 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; 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 crops are among the most nutritious foods people can eat. Besides, there are so many different kinds of these vegetables that at least one is sure to be your favorite.

If your stomach can digest them 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 these veggies.

Image via Flickr/ Charles Smith

Andre Campbell

Organic farmer and co-founder of Dre Campbell Farm. He appreciates everything in nature—sunshine, plants, animals, and human life.

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