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What are cruciferous vegetables and why are they important?

A cruciferous vegetable, as the name suggests, is a vegetable whose leaves grow in a cross or crucifix shape. Common examples of such vegetables include kale, turnip, cabbage broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts.

This group of vegetables have received considerable attention in recent years because of the high levels of nutrients they have been found to contain. Their nutritional properties are believed to benefit the body in many ways from protecting against cancer to maintaining hormonal balance.

Not only are they packed full of a variety of vitamins and minerals but they also harbor vast quantities of antioxidants - the substances that counteract the harmful toxins in our bodies. Each type of cruciferous vegetable contains different levels of goodness. For example, Kale is a superb source of Vitamin A, broccoli is packed full of Vitamin C, brussels sprouts are a great source of Omega 3, and Bok Choy is a good source of Vitamin B-6.

As previously mentioned, cruciferous vegetables are thought to have a significant affect in preventing certain types of cancer. Several studies shave shown links between cruciferous vegetables and cancer rates. These vegetables contain several substances which have ability to help stop the growth of certain types of cancer cells including those found in breast, colon, lung and cervix cancers.

Cruciferous vegetables also contain glocosinolaters which have been shown to help eliminate some of the toxins that can trigger the formation of cancerous cells. However, further research is needed to determine just how much difference these vegetables can really make in cancer patients.

Another health benefit from eating a diet rich in a variety of cruciferous vegetables is the prevention of cardiovascular disease. The combination of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants is believed to reduce the likelihood of developing heart or blood vessel related problems.

Top tip - always try to cook cruciferous vegetables for the shortest time possible as not only is some of the nutritional content lost but strong sulfur odours tend to be produced when they're cooked for too long.

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