Thwart Cancer With Cauliflower?
When you were growing up, your mother probably told you to eat your broccoli. Did you do it willingly? How about now? Do you regularly indulge in broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, or any of the other vegetables in the unique brassica family of edible plants? If not, you may be missing out on some important, inexpensive cancer prevention.
That’s right. There’s significant cancer prevention lurking in your grocer’s produce section. It takes many forms, but among the most potent are compounds found in the family of vegetables that are also called cruciferous; cabbage, parsley, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and even some related species, such as kohlrabi, turnips, collard greens, and rutabagas.
What do all of these crops have in common? They contain a handful of chemicals that are known to fight cancer, on several levels. One is 3,3'-diindolylmethane (DIM). Another is indole-3-carbinol (I3C). Yet another is sulforaphane. And then there’s selenium; an essential mineral known to play an important role in immune system function, and a potent antioxidant in its own right. All of these are believed to possess potent anti-cancer properties. Some are converted by gut bacteria into still more active forms of cancer-preventing chemicals.
In addition to providing potent cancer-fighting chemicals, brassica vegetables are high in vitamin C and soluble fiber. This sort of dietary fiber keeps your gut microbiome happy, and helps keep you feeling full, so you’re less likely to overeat and gain excess weight.
It’s the ultimate win-win. And, frankly, these vegetables are among the most versatile in any cook’s repertoire. To retain the most health-boosting compounds, consider steaming, stir-frying, baking, or microwaving. Boiling is okay, but the longer these vegetables are boiled, the fewer anti-cancer nutrients they will retain. One of my new favorite methods is roasting. Here’s a simple recipe that works well for most cruciferous vegetables.
Roasted Brassica Vegetables
Line a jellyroll pan with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 425° F. Cut or break vegetables into small, fairly uniform-size pieces. Toss with a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Arrange vegetable pieces in a single layer on sheet. Bake for about 10-14 minutes, depending on the size of pieces. Turn or shake pieces loose about halfway through cooking. Brussels sprouts (which should be cut in half, stem end to top) may take slightly longer to cook. Some minor charring is okay; it adds to the charm of this convenient method of cooking. Enjoy!