We all know we should be eating vegetables every day. Dr. Andrew Weil recommends at least 4-5 servings of vegetables a day. You should think about making cruciferous vegetables one of those daily servings. Cruciferous (also “brassica”) vegetables include: brussels sprouts, kale, turnip, rapeseed, watercress, horseradish (including wasabi), cabbage, rutabagas, cauliflower, broccoli and even mustard greens. Cruciferous vegetables are named for the flowers of this plant group that are found in formations of four, like a cross or “crucifix”. Like many other vegetables, they are rich in fiber and antioxidants and vitamins. However, they also happen to contain a very important chemical called indole-3-carbinol.
Indole-3-carbinol has been implicated in decreasing cancer risk, especially cancers of the breast, cervix and colon. Estrogen can be metabolized into various end products, two of which are 2-hydroxy estrone and 16-hydroxy estrone. The 2-hydroxy form is associated with positive effects in the brain, heart and bone, while the 16-hydroxy form is associated with increased risk of cancer. Indole-3-carbinol enhances metabolism of estrogen into the favorable 2-hydroxy form and away from the 16-hydorxy form.
The best way to eat cruciferous vegetables is to cook them for a few minutes first or ferment them which help break down some naturally occurring chemicals that can affect thyroid function. So steam some cabbage or make a stew. One way that is easy and fast is to oven roast them: Heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the vegetables into 1-2 inch pieces and put them in a resealable plastic bag with some olive oil, salt and pepper and other spices you feel like experimenting with. Shake them up until all the vegetables are coated. Then remove from the bag, spread evenly over a baking sheet and cook for 10-15 minutes until slightly browned. Do not burn them!
Again, it is essential to get lots of vegetables into your diet- 5 servings a day, 5 different colors if possible. Now you see why it’s important to make cruciferous vegetables a crucial part of your daily regimen.