Regular consumption (three times a week) of vegetables from the cabbage family can significantly reduce the risk (up to 50%) of developing certain cancers. Vegetables from the cabbage family are extremely beneficial foods for your health and offer first-class detoxification.
Not only do vegetables from the cabbage family constitute important sources of several vitamins and minerals, but in addition, several population studies involving tens of thousands of people, carried out over the past few years, have shown that regular consumption (three times a week) of these vegetables can significantly reduce the risk (up to 50%) of developing certain specific cancers: those of the lung, bladder, stomach, colon and breast. Overall protection from fruits and vegetables was only 9%, but that provided by cabbage ranged from 20% to 50%. These cancer-preventing effects associated with cabbage and its cousins are due to their high glucosinolates, a class of very powerful anti-cancer molecules found only in vegetables of this family.
Crucifers Cultivated and Eaten for Hundreds of Years
Vegetables from the cabbage family are also called cruciferous vegetables, a name that comes from the cross shape of the flowers produced by these plants (cross is called crux in Latin). Cruciferous vegetables include not only several varieties of cabbage, but also several species of plants which, at first glance, are very different from each other: yet turnips, radishes, watercress and even mustard or canola are all crucifers!
Cabbage is arguably one of the first vegetables to be cultivated by humans. Ancient civilizations attached great importance to this plant, which they believed was not only a daily staple, but also a vegetable with great therapeutic properties. The importance of cabbage in the culinary and medical culture of the time was so great that from the simple wild cabbage, the ancients managed to produce a very large number of different varieties of cabbage that we can still enjoy today. . Indeed, broccoli, cauliflower, kale or Brussels sprouts are all cabbage descended from a common ancestor and owe their distinct appearance only to the many manipulations of Roman and Greek farmers.
Cabbage, champion of detoxification
In terms of cancer prevention, the beneficial effect of cruciferous vegetables comes mainly from their ability to block the carcinogenic potential of a large number of dangerous products. In fact, to cause cancer, carcinogens must bind to the cell’s genetic material (DNA) and induce damage that will ultimately lead to the development of cancer.
The glucosinolates present in vegetables of the cabbage family prevent this phenomenon by stimulating the activity of our defense systems against these toxic aggressors, which causes an increase in their elimination from the body and the reduction by the same of their carcinogenic potential. This effect is extremely important, because several cancers are directly caused by deficits in the activity of these detoxification systems: a regular intake of cruciferous vegetables increases the performance of these systems.
For example, one study showed that some people are more likely to develop lung cancer because of a deficiency in their defense system against carcinogens, but that high consumption of cruciferous vegetables reverses this predisposition by lowering the risk of have these people to be affected by this disease. Cruciferous vegetables should therefore be considered first-line defense weapons, which prevent carcinogens from causing damage to cells that would lead to the development of cancers.
A Simple Dietary Change With Big Repercussions
If we are aiming for prevention, it is important to eat cruciferous vegetables regularly to maximize protection against cancer. Fortunately for us, the very wide variety of cruciferous vegetables currently on the market makes it possible to take full advantage of the beneficial properties of these foods without falling into monotony.
Whether in soup or in your sautéed or steamed vegetable dishes, eating about three servings of cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, turnip, radish, watercress, kale) per week is one of the habit changes that will have the greatest impact on your risk of getting cancer.