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Seasonal Spotlight: The Health Benefits of Cruciferous Vegetables

Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, oh my! What do all of these vegetables have in common? They are part of the cruciferous family, a specific group of vegetables that have been linked to some powerful health benefits. Let’s take a closer look.

Your first thought in regards to the commonality of this group of vegetables might have been that they all have a certain … ahem, smell. A sulfurous smell. This unforgettable aroma is due to sulfur-containing compounds known as glucosinolates. These compounds are intensified when chopped, which is why you may notice the peculiar smell intensified when opening a bag of store-bought cauliflower rice or shredded cabbage.

These plant compounds are not only responsible for the taste and smell of these vegetables, but also their specific health benefits. Cruciferous vegetables are most famously known for their role in decreasing cancer risk. They also have anti-viral and antibacterial effects, an added benefit during cold and flu season.

What qualifies as a cruciferous vegetable?

There are more cruciferous vegetables than you might think, including:
• Bok choy
• Brussels sprouts
• Cabbage
• Cauliflower
• Collard greens
• Kale
• Kohlrabi
• Mustard greens
• Radish
• Rutabaga
• Turnips
• Watercress

This group of vegetables has a unique flavor profile that is often bitter and even spicy, making them an unpopular food choice by some.

8 Delicious Ways to Enjoy Cruciferous Vegetables

Although cruciferous vegetables can be enjoyed year round, their peak season is in the Winter months. Consuming produce in season will result in a more fresh, flavorful, and often affordable addition to your plate.

A favorite way to enjoy bok choy is to chop it up and add it to your favorite stir fry recipe, or slice it in half lengthwise and roast it.

With the holidays coming up, Brussels sprouts tend to increase in popularity. Check out this tutorial on how to roast Brussels sprouts to crispy perfection and this recipe for Orange Balsamic Glazed Brussels Sprouts to inspire your holiday side dish!

Shredded cabbage is an excellent lettuce alternative in salads because of its hearty nature and crunchy texture. You can even toss it with a dressing and let it sit for a few days in the refrigerator and it will just get better with time, like in this Easy Asian Cabbage Slaw recipe.

Cauliflower is probably one of the more versatile cruciferous vegetables. It can be chopped up into a low-carb rice alternative, boiled and pureed into a potato-free mash, or roasted for a buttery-smooth finish. This recipe for Anti-Inflammatory Roasted Cauliflower is one that should be on rotation all Winter long to help fight against sickness.

Despite how you choose to incorporate cruciferous vegetables into your diet, increasing plant-based foods and variety on your plate will help you reap their many health benefits!

 


Carly Paige, health coach and cooking instructor, believes that healthy doesn’t have to be hard. Her mission is to show you simple swaps in and out of the kitchen to elevate your everyday that will transform your health. Carly is the author of Simply Swapped Everyday, a healthy guide and cookbook with over 75 plant-powered recipes and founder of FitLiving Eats – a place where she shares nutritious recipes and how-to guides.

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