kale chips

What do broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, bok choy and cabbage all have in common? They’re cruciferous vegetables, of the family Brassicaceae (does using Latin makes me seem scholarly?), and they’re awesome.

These super foods are packed with fiber and other important nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin A, and phytochemicals.

Here’s the nutritional breakdown for each:

Per 1 cup: Broccoli Cauliflower Cabbage B. Sprouts Bok Choy Kale
(steamed) (frozen, cooked) (raw) (cooked) (cooked) (cooked)
Calories 44 34 22 60 20 36
Fiber 5g 5 2 4 3 3
Vitamin A 33% DV 1% 2% 16% 62% 137%
Vitamin B-2 16% 9% 3% 11% 10% 8%
Vitamin B-6 17% 12% 7% 21% 22% 14%
Vitamin C 165% 75% 38% 129% 59% 71%
Folic Acid 23% 18% 10% 23% 17% 4%
Magnesium 12% 5% 4% 10% 6% 7%
Potassium 14% 7% 6% 14% 18% 8%
Omega-3s 200 mg 140 mg 60 mg 260 mg 100 mg 100 mg

Consumption of cruciferous vegetables have been linked to reduced risk of cancers of the breast, endometrium, cervix, lung, liver and colon, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research. Their antioxidants also protect against damage by free radicals in the body.

Though the benefits outweigh potential negatives, cruciferous vegetables may be induce goiter formation in people with thyroid issues, so if you’re concerned, talk to you doctor. In many cases, cooking for 30 minutes may reduce the enzymes that interfere with thyroid function.

Note to self: Staying up late researching and writing about cruciferous vegetables probably negates any of the health benefits derived from said Cruciferae.

kale salads are a great vehicle for other cruciferous vegetables

roasted cauliflower pairs well with all kinds of random shit

Some of my favorite ways to eat cruciferous vegetables:

  • My current obsession is roasted cauliflower (just a little olive oil and salt, roasted ~45 minutes at 400 degrees F).
  • Massaged kale salads and kale chips. I even throw it in smoothies sometimes. Just remember to remove the stems from the leaves first if you don’t like the bitter taste.
  • Steamed broccoli is super-easy to make and throw into stir-fry. Add a ginger-miso glaze and you’re good to go. This green veggie is also great roasted.
  • If you haven’t tried Mark Bittman’s Braised & Glazed Brussels sprouts, do yourself a favor and make some ASAP. I actually prefer it to roasted versions, though those kind of kick ass too.
  • Bok choy, in my experience, can be a bit delicate—be careful not to overcook it! I like to throw it into stir-fry as one of the last ingredients. Since the market near me doesn’t have it too often, it’s a nice treat.
  • Cabbage—especially when shredded—is amazing in soup. It’s one of my get-well remedies. Here’s my current favorite cabbage soup recipe, which calls for yellow split peas, carrots, and plenty of garlic and turmeric.
  • Sauerkraut, which is a fermented cabbage product, is another food with tons of health benefits—try it on sandwiches or in salads to get your feet wet. It’s also great in noodle dishes and makes a good stand-in for fresh cabbage in soup.
What are your favorite cruciferous vegetables? How do you prepare them? 

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