Cruciferous Vegetables, Best Allies In Fighting Cancers

Many research studies conducted lately proved that people who eat frequently cruciferous vegetables are less prone to cancer, especially digestive, breast and prostate cancer. It was also proved that these vegetables are a remarkable source of vitamin C, beta carotene, folic acid, potassium and fibre.

Cruciferous vegetables facts

Cruciferous vegetables take their name from the word “Cruciferae”, that means Cross-bearing in latin and comes from its flowers that grow in shape of a cross. Native to the Mediterranean and the temperate areas of Asia, Cruciferae family is also referred to as Brassicaceae family and has 372 genera and 4060 accepted species. The most popular species are Brassica oleracea (e.g., broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, collards), Brassica rapa (turnip, chinese cabbage, etc.), Brassica napus (rapeseed, etc.), Raphanus sativus (common radish), Armoracia rusticana (horseradish) and also a cut-flower Matthiola (stock), according to Wikipedia.

The vegetables of the Cruciferae family are very rich in vitamins and act as powerful detox agents that help eliminate harmful substances from the body due to an appropriate enzyme content. Probably the most important attribute of cruciferous vegetables though, consists in their capacity to help the body to block the development of cancer cells.

Cruciferous vegetable have become very popular in the last decades while many studies have investigated the properties for health of these extraordinary plants. The conclusions are more than auspicious since there are many acclaimed research proving that people who eat frequently cruciferous vegetables are less prone to cancer, especially digestive, breast and prostate cancer. It was also proved that these vegetables are a remarkable source of vitamin C, beta carotene, folic acid, potassium and fibre. Moreover, cruciferous content in sulphur compounds is decisive in the second detox phase that takes place at the liver's cellular level. When consumed along with proteins, these vegetables increase immunity in the cold season, providing extra nutrients to the immune system.

The authors of the bestseller “Foods That Fight Cancer: Prevention of Cancer through Diet”, Richard Beliveau and Denis Gingras, placed cruciferous vegetables on the top of their list of foods that stop the cancer evolution and can even heal it (

The authors affirmed in their book that the plants belonging to the Cruciferous family (namely cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, horseradish) were grown in Antiquity mainly for their medicinal properties. Cabbage has been highly valued by the Greeks and the Romans as a miraculous food from medicinal point of view, equal or even outperforming garlic as a favorite remedy, some sort of “first selection” universal remedy one may say. Acclaimed by Pythagoras as well as by Hippocrates who named it "the vegetable with a thousand of virtues", cabbage was used by the later to treat diarrhea and dysentery and was considered an essential food in order to keep up a good health.

Beliveau and Gingras have chosen interesting examples from Antiquity to support their ideas, which are very suggestive for everybody. It appears that Diogenes the Cynic (413-327 BC), the Greek philosopher who was among the foremost adepts of the cynicism philosophy (also known for his bad temper) managed to reach the venerable age of eighteen-three years living in a poorly sheltered hut and eating almost only cabbage. He preached all his life about achieving happiness by living simply, naturally and virtuously without pursuing wealth, power or fame and so he proved his beliefs.

Cato the Elder (234–149 BC), also known as Cato the Wise (Cato Sapiens), a Roman historian devoted to agriculture too, as his ancestors were before him, wrote in his agriculture treaty that cabbage "eaten raw, with vinegar, cooked in oil or in another kind of fat” has the power to purify everything and heal everything, from excess wine hangover to serious diseases such as cancer. It is believed that he recommended a broken cabbage leaf applied on the breast to heal the cancerous ulcers.

Eating cabbage frequently halves the risk of developing breast cancer

Beliveau and Gingras presented in their book a research based on 252 cases of bladder cancer that occurred over a ten-year period in a target group of 47,909 people, healthcare system employees. Consuming cruciferous vegetables, especially broccoli and cabbage no less than five times/ portions weekly, has been associated with halving the risk of developing this type of cancer compared to people who consumed only one portion of these vegetables per week or even fewer.

The same effect was observed in the case of breast cancer, based on another study that targeted Chinese women. Those who have consumed more than five portions per week noticed a 50% lower risk of breast cancer compared to women who have consumed smaller amounts. Remarkable results in reducing the illness occurrence have been observed when it comes about lung cancer, prostate cancer and gastrointestinal (stomach and colorectal) cancers.

The authors argued that three or more portions of cruciferous vegetables per week seem to be even more effective than tomatoes in preventing prostate cancer, knowing that according current research tomatoes are among the strongest allies that human body has in this fight. Although the amount of fruit and vegetables in our diet plays an essential role in most cancers prevention, these results indicate that certain types of vegetables, especially cruciferous, are of decisive importance in the fight against the spread of this frightful disease.

In addition to various anti-cancer polyphenols, cruciferous vegetables contain high concentrations of a group of compounds known as glucosinolates. The authors argue that the glucosinolate molecules do not act directly to prevent cancers from developing. Instead, they release two classes of compounds that have an extremely intense anticancer activity: isothiocyanates and indoles. To illustrate how it works, let's take the following example: a person bites from a broccoli inflorescence, a rich source of glucosinolates. While the person chews broccoli, the plant molecules break down and the separate parts that were in the molecule mix together.

Five most common tasty cruciferous vegetable


Cabbage is one of the healthiest plants in the world, as many personalities of the scientific community believe. It also has an impressive record of facts that showed along the centuries that it possesses miraculous powers, which are now validated by means of modern research. Thus, it is difficult to summarize the plentiful characteristics and powers that cabbaget has (it will be done in a different article) therefore here are just some, relevant to the topic in discussion.

Cabbage has a very low-calorie content and just the opposite applies when it comes about vitamin C: it is among the vegetables with the highest vitamin C content. It is also very high in vitamin E content, since just 200 grams each day covers the required vitamin E daily dose. The same is true for carotene that turns into vitamin A after being ingested.

Cabbage contains all the B group anti-cancer vitamins namely B1, B2, B3, B5, B6 and B9 also minerals such as calcium, iron and magnesium as well as trace elements such as copper, iodine, manganese and sulfur. It also has the vitamin U known for its capacity to treat and prevent the appearance of ulcer disease.