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Cruciferous veggies

What do kale, arugula and Brussels sprouts have in common? Aside from being trendy ingredients, they’re all delicious cruciferous vegetables and pack a nutritional punch.

Cruciferous veggies are a diverse group that includes broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, bok choy, arugula, Brussels sprouts, collards, watercress and radishes. Fun fact: The name “cruciferous” is an informal classification for members of the mustard family and comes from the Latin cruciferae meaning “cross bearing,” because the four petals resemble a cross.

Various components in cruciferous vegetables have been linked to lower cancer risks. Some have shown the ability to stop the growth of cancer cells for tumors in the breast, uterine lining (endometrium), lung , colon, liver, and cervix, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research. And studies that track the diets of people over time have found that diets high in cruciferous vegetables are linked to lower rates of prostate cancer, decrease in oxidative stress, cardiovascular disease,

Which cruciferous vegetables have the most vitamin A, vitamin C, and folic acid? The answers are:

Kale (vitamin A) Broccoli (vitamin C) Brussels sprouts and broccoli (tied for folic acid)

Brussels sprouts have the most vitamin E (about 9% of the Daily Value) and vitamin B-1 (15% Daily Value). And it’s broccoli and Brussels sprouts again that have the most healthy plant omega-3s: A cup of broccoli contributes about 200 milligrams, and a cup of Brussels sprouts about 260 milligrams.

Tips for Enjoying Cruciferous Vegetables

To maximize taste and nutrition, here are some tips for buying and cooking cruciferous vegetables:

Don’t overcook cruciferous vegetables. They can produce a strong sulfur odor and become unappealing. You can buy several types of cruciferous vegetables ready-to-go in the frozen or fresh packaged sections of your supermarket, including broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. No raw veggie platter is complete without dark green broccoli or snowy white cauliflower florets. Add raw broccoli or cauliflower florets to your green salad to give the nutrients a big boost. Add chopped cruciferous veggies to soups, stews, and casseroles. When buying fresh broccoli, look for firm florets with a purple, dark green, or bluish hue on the top. They're likely to contain more beta-carotene and vitamin C than florets with lighter green tops. If it has yellow in it or is limp and bendable, the broccoli is old -- don’t buy it.

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