It seems like almost every few weeks some new supplement is hailed as a magic bullet cure for much of what ails us – green powders and turmeric capsules being two recent examples. Yet if we’d only look at what’s growing naturally in the ground rather than to the latest lab-born creation, we could derive most of the same benefits, if not more. We can also forget that when companies are isolating one particular ingredient and removing all the others, they’re eliminating the delicate, micronutrient balance and some of the compound effects that whole foods provide.
When it comes to vegetables, you don’t have to consume them in a powder or buy them in some ‘super-powered smoothie.’ Just get organic and, if possible, local produce. One class of veggies that can be particularly beneficial at this time of year is cruciferous ones (or coming from the cabbage family). Sure, there are the obvious ones you’ve been hearing about for years, like kale and broccoli. But here are three other varieties to throw in your cart next time you make a run to the store:
Not quite sure what these really have to do with Belgium’s capital city and yep, your kids are probably going to remind you quite forcefully that they hate sprouts. But despite these objections (and the fact that they can cause more than a little flatulence), these little green balls are nutritional powerhouses. Some studies have shown that they can help protect DNA and prevent or buffer cellular damage. Their high level of glucosinolates are also believed to have cancer-fighting properties. We’ll concede that steamed sprouts aren’t exactly a culinary delight. Try smothering them in avocado oil and roasting instead.
Cauliflower often gets treated like a poor version of broccoli, but that’s wholly undeserved. This white cruciferous champ should get a second look in your kitchen, not least because of the immune-boosting vitamin C it contains. Cauliflower is also a good source of vitamin K, which promotes a solid skeleton, not to mention its folate content, which can help contribute to red blood cell health. It’s not just the white part of the plant that is beneficial. An Italian study demonstrated that cauliflower leaves reduce oxidative stress and combat chronic inflammation.
Would a respectable health article on cruciferous veggies be complete without this staple? A powerful concoction of antioxidants in cabbage – including the elaborately-named zeaxanthin, isothiocyanates, and sulforaphane – prompt the release of detoxifying enzymes. Another micronutrient found in cabbage – indole-3-carbinol – has been shown to reduce the incidence and severity of stomach ulcers. And if you want to switch from a traditional Irish food to a German one, sauerkraut is among the best sources of gut health-promoting probiotics.