4 Benefits of Cruciferous Vegetables and Sulforaphane

Cruciferous vegetables are vegetables that belong to the Brassica genus plants and are known for their gas forming properties, ability to fight cancer and various health benefits.   They are super foods that one needs daily in their diet as they are rich in sulfur compounds known as glucosinolates and indole-3- carbinol, which work to support the health of the body. Most of the cruciferous vegetables do contain an active compound called sulforaphane, which is also a highly reactive compound that is produced when the myrosinase enzyme converts glucosinolate through the chemical reaction such as cutting and chewing.  Cruciferous vegetables include arugula, broccoli, Bok choi, cabbage, cauliflower, collard green, daikon, kale, komatsuna, mizuna, radish, turnips and watercress amongst others. 

Four incredible benefits of cruciferous vegetables and the active compound sulforaphane include:

Helps in fighting Cancer

Sulforaphane is known as an anticancer compound which helps in the prevention and treatment of various types of cancer, such as bladder, breast, stomach, prostate, colon, lung and skin. It has the ability to intervene in carcinogenesis stages through regulation and modulation of important cellular mechanisms and be selectively toxic to malignant cells.  

A study was done by the Vanderbilt- Ingram Cancer Center and Shanghai Center for Disease Control and Prevention shows that if breast cancer survivors do follow a general guideline of eating vegetables daily and increase the intake of cruciferous vegetables as part of their healthy diet, then it would reduce breast cancer- specific mortality and disease recurrence. This is because cruciferous vegetable has phytochemicals known as indoles and isothiocyanates, which tend to have a protective effect against certain types of cancer.   However the activity level of these bioactive compounds will depend on both the type and the amount of cruciferous vegetables eaten, that is why you should eat a serving a day of the cruciferous vegetables. 

Reduces inflammation

Inflammation in the body causes chronic diseases and illnesses so eating cruciferous vegetables help in inflammatory regulation. Sulforaphane is known to have anti-inflammatory properties which help modulate the excretion of biomarkers,which are linked to inflammation and vascular reactions.   Cruciferous vegetables also contain vitamin K and omega 3 fatty acids, which regulate the inflammatory system response when you injure any part of your body.

Enhances brain transformation

Sulforaphane is responsible for healing the brain and improves learning abilities and memory in people who have Alzheimer’s disease and traumatic brain injury. Studies show that this happens because sulforaphane is able to promote neurogenesis and reduce the aluminum load in the brain hence improved brain health. Sulforaphane has also shown benefits to children who have autism as it improved their social interaction, verbal communication, and abnormal behavior. 

Improves eye health

Cruciferous vegetables contain carotenoids such as lutein and zeaxanthin, which are essential structural components of the macula lutea region of the retina, where the lens focuses the light entering the eye.  The carotenoids are responsible for filtering and protecting the eye from harmful ultraviolet radiation and any harmful free radical effects. This, in turn, prevents the development of the age-related macular disease.