By Elizabeth Szlek, Wellness Counselor
Yesterday, by chance, I visited the Compassion Coalition grocery on Columbia Street, and realized, from the crowds present, it was Wednesday!
This is the day all the fresh fruits and vegetables arrive, and what a treasure trove there was!
What stood out the most to me were gigantic heads of cauliflower for $3.50. These beautiful, totally fresh specimens were three or four times a normal head. What a bargain!!
So, the question is: Are you celebrating harvest time by consuming these wonderful vegetables when they are at their peak? Let’s talk about the cruciferous family right now: Cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel Sprouts, and kohlrabi, rutabagas, arugula, turnips and, kale are just the ones that come to mind. These foods are so power-packed with nutrition, I must go into some of their many benefits to you.
What is that special “something” in these cruciferous vegetables that is so beneficial to our nutrition? It seems to be the phytochemical sulforaphane. This plant component comes to life when the plant is damaged in some way: That is, when it is cut or chewed. Funny, huh?
This chemical has been found to have marvelous effects on our health, and an article on the excellent website greenmedinfo.com lists ten benefits to us when we consume cruciferous veggies. They found that sulforaphane:
- Is a proven anti-cancer compound, due to its anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Has anti-depressant properties, and also is good for alleviating anxiety.
- Is also wonderful as a pain reliever, especially in the presence of Vitamin C.
- It is cardioprotective, helping to prevent inflammation of artery walls.
It also prevents obesity, relieves hypertension and other conditions related to cardiovascular disease.
- It is a major source of anti-oxidants and is actually a superior source of them for the body. Smokers who ate the cruciferous vegetables for ten days were found to have lowered levels of CRP (C-reactive protein). CRP denotes levels of inflammation and the oxidative stress level of the body, so this is big news!
- It protects and helps to eliminate toxins from the body, including arsenic and pesticides. In this day and age, where we are all bombarded with thousands of toxicants daily, this is great news, too!
- It provides support in keeping diabetes and insulin resistance ( a precursor to diabetes Type II) in check.
- It provides support for the control and even elimination of H. pylori bacteria in the gut. This bacterium is connected to the development of ulcers and even gastric cancer.
- It seems to provide some protection from the development of Alzheimer’s disease, which is currently claiming millions of victims every year in America.
- It has proven anti-inflammatory effects in line with other well-known foods, such as curcumin so that it can actually be considered a healing substance. Cruciferous vegetables are healing to the body, but instead of the toxicity of a drug, they only provide benefits. No side effects!!
I am sure this is not an exhaustive list of the benefits to be found in cruciferous vegetables, but it is obviously a great starting point!
Sadly, I have met clients who never eat any of them, or any other vegetables, for that matter. This is very troubling to me, as these persons will continue to suffer from both physical and mental disorders, due to their malnourished state.
If you think cabbage is that tiny bowl of coleslaw accompanying your fish fry, or that sprig of broccoli that adorns your chicken entree at dinner, think again. There are thousands of recipes featuring these wonderful vegetables throughout all cuisines. You must find ways to consume these gold mines of nutrition on a regular basis! They are there to nourish you! Please learn how to prepare them, and make these cruciferous vegetables a mainstay of your diet!
Elizabeth Szlek is the Director of The Door Counseling Center of Yorkville, NY. She is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, a certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, and a certified GAPS Practitioner. She can be reached at )315) 768-8900.