There are 12 major cruciferous veggies (the name comes from “crux” in Latin, which refers to the pattern of four petals in the flowers of these nutritional wonders). In alphabetical order, the “dazzling dozen” are: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale, kohlrabi, mustard greens, horseradish, rutabaga, turnips, and watercress.
Sulforaphane is an important cancer-fighting compound found in broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage but is even more concentrated in broccoli and cauliflower sprouts. Did you know that sulforaphane is perhaps the most powerful natural chemical for stopping the growth of tumors?
According to Emily Ho, of the Linus Pauling Institute, “Cancer is very complex and it’s usually not just one thing that has gone wrong. It’s increasingly clear that sulforaphane is a real multi-tasker. The more we find out about it, the more benefits it appears to have.”
In other research, sulforaphane has been shown to selectively target benign hyperplasia and prostate cancer cells while leaving normal prostate cells unaffected.
Broccoli was used all the way back in the 1950s to protect guinea pigs from lethal doses of radiation (cabbage also worked but broccoli was more effective!).
Sulforaphane from broccoli has been used successfully to reduce risks and protect against breast and cervical cancer, leukemia, as well as the H. pylori bacteria, which causes ulcers and stomach cancers. Broccoli was effective against H. pylori bacteria, even when the bacteria were resistant to common antibiotics!
Indole-3-carbinol, also found in cruciferous veggies, is one of Dr. Rodier’s top recommendations for liver and intestinal detox. Researchers believe that indole-3-carbinol is particularly effective against hormone-dependent cancers like breast cancer (even the NIH has funded study of indole-3-carbinol to prevent breast cancer, which says a lot).
Fast Fact: Indole-3-carbinol is inert until it comes in contact with stomach acid, which converts it to active metabolites.
Each of the dazzling dozen has a unique protector role, with cauliflower helping the body detoxify and neutralize carcinogens (using indoles). Cabbage can speed up the metabolism of estrogen, which reduces the risk of breast cancer. Collards protect against lung, colon, esophageal, and prostate cancers. Kale has an abundance of lutein, which is more protective against cancer than beta-carotene. The list goes on and on.
Cruciferous veggies are affordable and easy to come by. Go ahead, search your local farmers market for super-fresh variants of the “dazzling dozen,” experiment with new recipes, and know that you just might be protecting your little cells from terrible transmogrifying mischief. And, as always, go organic!