Many of us remember being told to “eat your broccoli” when we were young. Not all of us liked it at first. But luckily most people grow to like broccoli and other similar vegetables with time because they are part of a group of foods you want to focus on. I’ll tell you why.
To start, broccoli is part of a group called cruciferous vegetables that are related to each other in the Brassica family. This family of super plants also includes kale, cauliflower, cabbage, mustard greens, bok choy, and Brussels sprouts. These superfoods have a ton of nutrition per calorie, and other health-promoting compounds, they’re relatively inexpensive and easy to cook too!
They are one of the top groups of foods that I recommend clients focus on for a number of reasons including their ability to support
- reduced inflammation
- optimal digestion
- improved detoxification
- weight management and reduced disease risk
One cup of broccoli contains:
- 34 calories
- 8 g protein, 0.4 g fat, 6.6 g carbohydrates, and 2.6 g fibre.
- B vitamins (when eaten raw)
- Almost 100% of your vitamin C and K
- Traces of all the other vitamins and minerals
One cup of loosely packed kale contains:
- 8 calories
- 7 g protein, 0.2 g fat (including omega-3), 1.4 g carbohydrates, and 0.6 g fibre.
- Contains pre-vitamin A (beta-carotene).
- Several B vitamins, including B1, B3, B5, B6, and folate (B9)
- Rich in vitamins C and K
- Lots of minerals including manganese, magnesium, iron, potassium, sulfur, copper, phosphorus, and calcium
NOTE: Too much vitamin K may interact with certain blood-thinning medications. If you’re taking one of these medications, talk to your doctor or pharmacist before changing the amount of these superfoods into your diet so your medication can be set at the right level.
If you’ve been reading my articles for a while, you already know that one of the primary sources of arthritis pain is inflammation.
These cruciferous superfoods contain flavonols like kaempferol and quercetin. Flavonols have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Combined with other diet changes, this can make a huge impact on how great your joints feel.
Broccoli and kale and other cruciferous vegetables tend to taste a bit bitter – but that bitterness equals healthfulness! In recent decades, with the large number of refined flours and starches that we consume, our taste buds are no longer accustomed to this taste. But you can train your taste buds to like this flavour again!
It’s this bitter flavour that contains indicates the health-promoting compounds in these super plant foods. And this can help to promote the proper breakdown of food and nutrient extraction from the foods.
There are a few different types of kale – from curly kale to dinosaur kale, to red/purple kale. The different colours result from slight differences in the amounts of the compounds these plants contain.
One of the main active ingredients in cruciferous vegetables is glucosinolates. These antioxidant compounds are very useful to help detoxify, reduce inflammation and feel awesome again!
NOTE: It’s the precursors to glucosinolates that are in cruciferous vegetables, not the compounds themselves. When fresh broccoli and kale are eaten (or even chopped/blended) raw the active compounds are produced. This fact is incorporated into a trick I use in this recipe.
Other Health Benefits
Kale also contains carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin. Carotenoids are known for promoting eye health and are protective against many cancers. And when cooked, kale contains another anti-cancer compound called indole.
NOTE: Glucosinolates may affect iodine absorption and thyroid health, particularly in people prone to thyroid disease. In this case, you don’t have to ditch these superfoods altogether – just cook them first.
Broccoli, kale and other cruciferous superfoods are packed with nutrition and have a whole array of health-promoting compounds. Everyone should be eating these regularly. Just make sure your consistent if you’re taking blood-thinning medications. And, if you have thyroid issues, cook them first.
Do you, or anyone you know, absolutely love (or hate) these superfoods? Do you have a favourite recipe to share? Let me know in the comments below.