Know your Veggies!April 19, 2018
We all know that vegetables are good for our health but perhaps we underestimate just how important they really are. Although all veggies are whole-foods and an extremely healthy choice – we should also consider their individual importance and functionality in maintaining our health. Therefore it may be useful to identify the special health giving properties of specific vegetables. The humble Broccoli for example, is found to exhibit powerful antioxidant activity that can prevent oxidative stress related to many diseases. A diet rich in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables (crucifers) can play an important role in the prevention of cardiovascular disease and some cancers (Hwang et al, 2015).
All vegetables contain their own unique combination of phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals. These combinations can be differentiated from others within the five vegetable groups. The groups of veggies we are all familiar with are i) dark-green leafy ii) red & orange; iii) starchy iv) beans and peas v) others, such as Brussels sprouts, mushrooms, onions and cabbage. Most have a measure of important nutrients that we can run low on such as Fibre, Potassium, Folate, Vitamins A and C. Veggies all differ in other vital nutrients and should be varied in our daily diet.
What are phytonutrients?
An increasing number of studies are linking crucifers to chronic disease protection, particularly cancer, where most research has been focussed (the word cruciferous comes from the cross bearing shape of their flowers). Research has found that these veggies are the highest in plant-based antioxidants, known broadly as phytonutrients (also referred to as phytochemicals and polyphenols). Members of the crucifer family include, Bok choi, Broccoli, Horse radish, Mustard, Wasabi, Kale, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Brussels sprouts, Turnips, Radish and Watercress.
Diets that are rich in polyphenols are in particular, closely associated with improved health outcomes for various cancers. These include, breast, pancreas, colorectal, skin, lung, bladder, oesophagus, ovarian and prostate cancer. The evidence concerning the anti-carcinogenic effect of polyphenols in crucifers is now overwhelming (Dias, 2012).
The health giving properties of crucifers is due primarily to the high concentration of a compound called Suloraphane. This unique compound is found to be particularly toxic to malignant cancer cells. Studies suggest that with just 3 to 5 servings of cruciferous vegetables per week the risk of cancer may be reduced by 30 – 40%. Their regular consumption may also increase protection against heart disease, diabetes and arthritis.
Low G.I and negligible carbs
An appealing feature of all vegetable types is their minimal calories and low glycaemic index (G.I< 15) that help control appetite. These attributes make them an ideal food in achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight. Adding more green vegetables to a balanced diet will also supplement our intake of dietary fibre – this too helps in weight management, and regulates the digestive system for improved bowel health.
How to cook without losing the powerful health benefits of Crucifers
When cooking crucifers, to preserve the active constituents, they should not be boiled for longer than 9 minutes. Longer boiling will considerably reduce their potency. (Using less water through microwaving or light steaming can help reduce this loss). Also look for the freshest possible vegetables. For example, young broccoli sprouts (3 days old) offer 10 to 100 times more sulforaphane than mature broccoli plants or cauliflower. The purchase of vegetables shortly after harvest is important and will ensure only the highest quality is consumed.
Is there a natural way in which we can supplement veggies?
With all the evidence of the unique properties of crucifers as a source of polyphenols – it is hard not to be convinced – of the need to include these whole food miracles in a healthy diet. But finding the freshest in-season produce and knowing the tastiest recipes is not always easy. If missing out on your daily serves of vegetables, Pomi-T® is a natural food supplement (in capsule form) for health consumers that wish to increase their intake of polyphenols. It is a wholesome blend of broccoli, turmeric, green tea and pomegranate (a combination of vegetable, spice, leaf and berry) and is rich in antioxidants. Pomi-T® is the first concentrated whole food supplement to be evaluated in rigorous scientific trials and has been positively verified.
“Brocolli Cancer Health Pomi-T Antioxidants Isothiocyanate.” n.d. Accessed April 11, 2018. http://www.cancernet.co.uk/broccoli.htm.
Sulforaphane. n.d. http://www.greenmedinfo.com/substance/sulforaphane
Thomas, R., M. Williams, H. Sharma, A. Chaudry, and P. Bellamy. 2014. “A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Randomised Trial Evaluating the Effect of a Polyphenol-Rich Whole Food Supplement on PSA Progression in Men with Prostate Cancer–the U.K. NCRN Pomi-T Study.” Prostate Cancer and Prostatic Diseases 17 (2): 180–86. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24614693
Tortorella, Stephanie M., Simon G. Royce, Paul V. Licciardi, and Tom C. Karagiannis. 2015. “Dietary Sulforaphane in Cancer Chemoprevention: The Role of Epigenetic Regulation and HDAC Inhibition.” Antioxidants & Redox Signaling 22 (16): 1382–1424. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4432495/
Turcotte, Michele, MS, and RD. n.d. “Foods That Are High in Sulforaphane.” LIVESTRONG.COM. Accessed April 12, 2018. https://www.livestrong.com/article/307835-foods-that-are-high-in-sulforaphane/.