What on earth are cruciferous vegetables?

What are cruciferous vegetables?

🥦Cruciferous vegetables are also known as the brassicas family of vegetables. Cruciferous vegetables contain phytonutrients called glucosinolates and these SULPHUR-CONTAINING COMPOUNDS are responsible for the pungent aroma and bitter flavour that distinguish cruciferous vegetables from other vegetables.

🥦When we chew cruciferous vegetables this releases the enzyme myrosinase, which is present within the plant tissue, and causes the glucosinolates to form biologically active compounds such as indoles (indole-3-carbinol- which is best known for its oestrogen detoxification benefits) and isothiocyanates (sulforaphane). ⁠

🥦Sulforaphane, is the most potent naturally occurring inducer of phase II LIVER DETOXIFICATION. It does this by conjugating glutathione in the liver as well as up-regulating Nrf2, a transcription factor which enhances our ability to buffer oxidative stress via ANTI-OXIDANT response elements (AREs).⁠

🥦Sulforaphane is also a potent ANTI-INFLAMMATORY that regulates the transcription factor NF-kB, our master regulator of the inflammatory eicosanoid pathway.⁠

🥦Sulforaphane also contains a high concentration of antioxidants and is a powerful ANTI-CANCER compound inducing programmed cell death (apoptosis) via upregulation of p53 gene expression.⁠


  • BROCCOLI SPROUTS, in particular, are one of the highest concentrated sources of sulforaphane. In fact, 3-day-old sprouts contain 10–100 times higher levels of glucosinolates than the mature plant (broccoli)
  • BRUSSELS SPROUTS are the most concentrated source of glucosinolates
  • KALE

🥦COOKING TIP: Glucosinolates are water-soluble compounds that are leached into cooking water. These phytochemicals are easily destroyed. Boiling cruciferous vegetables for just 9 to 15 minutes decreases total glucosinolate content by 18 to 59 percent. The best way to prevent loss is to lightly steam for around 5 minutes or enjoy them raw.⁠

🥦Because cruciferous vegetables provide such integrated nourishment across a wide variety of nutritional categories, they provide broad support across a wide variety of body systems as well. Their amounts of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detox-related nutrients make them unique supporters of the body’s antioxidant system, inflammatory system, and detoxification system. And because this 3-system combination plays such a pivotal role in our risk of cancer development, cruciferous vegetables are unsurpassed as a food group in terms of their cancer risk-reducing properties. The anti-inflammatory properties of cruciferous vegetables – together with their unusual concentration of folic acid – combine to make this food group protective against atherosclerosis, heart attack and stroke. The fibre and glucosinolates in cruciferous vegetables also give them unique digestive support properties, including the ability to help regulate interactions between Helicobacter pylori bacteria and the stomach wall. Without regular intake of cruciferous vegetables in your diet, your body systems will be missing out on some of the best-researched pathways for disease prevention.