Thanks to the exponential growth of technology, modern society is evolving fast. Unfortunately, disease is also on the rise. Our bodies are suffering from exposure to petroleum byproducts, air pollution, processed foods, agrichemicals, and radiation.
In this context, prevention is critical. One of the easiest ways to promote overall wellness is by eating a nutritious diet high in beneficial vitamins and minerals. Cruciferous vegetables cannot be neglected! This class of veggies includes broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, radish, rutabaga, turnip, and arugula.
What makes cruciferous vegetables so potent is that they contain an important phytochemical called sulforaphane. Sulforaphane has been getting a lot of attention in research for the last quarter-century for its anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidant promotion.
Sulforaphane has been shown to prevent oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is when the body starts producing a lot of ROS (reactive oxygen species) as a natural immune defense. The ROS synthesize into free radicals and the body doesn’t have enough antioxidants available to cope.
Oxidative stress causes inflammation. Inflammation isn’t always bad, but chronic inflammation has been linked to a wide range of problems including dementia, heart disease, asthma, migraines, colitis, cancer, diabetes, and depression.
Inflammation can be triggered by allergens, stress, refined sugar, alcohol, pollution, genetic disorders, among other factors. Cell research from 2016 indicates “clear evidence that pre-treatment with sulforaphane completely restored the antioxidant status and prevented inflammatory responses.”
Broccoli especially stands out for its high sulforaphane content and ability to fend off cancer. According to a study from John Hopkins University, “Three-day-old broccoli sprouts consistently contain 20 to 50 times the amount of chemoprotective compounds found in mature broccoli heads and may offer a simple dietary means of chemically reducing cancer risk”.
Sulforaphane also helps the body eliminate toxins more efficiently, by assisting in “protection from and elimination of arsenic and pesticides”. Another exciting benefit of sulforaphane is that it can prevent brain degeneration and promote neural stem cell (NSC) growth.
Cruciferous vegetables are also a good source of vitamins C, E, and K, and fiber. They can be cooked in a stir fry or casserole, or shredded and served in a refreshing salad.
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