Cruciferous vegetables are anti-cancer foods

One of the most powerful reasons why Nutrient Rich Nutrient Excellence is so effective, is because your body is actually getting the nutrients, specifically the micronutrients it needs to function and perform successfully and if it can function and perform well, it can stay healthy and free of lifestyle-induced diseases.

Nutrition scientists have shown over and over that people who eat more natural plant foods – vegetables, fruits, legumes, etc. – are less likely to be diagnosed with cancer.   But are all vegetables equally protective?  If we wanted to design an anti-cancer diet, we would want to know which foods have the most powerful anti-cancer effects – then we could eat plenty of these foods each day, flooding our bodies with the protective substances contained within them.

So, which foods have the most powerful anti-cancer effects?  Cruciferous vegetables. 

This family of vegetables is named for their flowers, having four equally spaced petals in the shape of a cross, from the Latin word ‘crucifer’ meaning ‘cross-bearer’.  These are the cruciferous vegetables:

  •  Arugula
  • Bok choy
  • Broccoli
  • Broccoli rabe
  • Broccolini
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Collards
  • Horseradish
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Mache
  • Mustard greens
  • Radish
  • Red cabbage
  • Rutabaga
  • Turnips
  • Turnip greens
  • Watercress

 All vegetables contain protective micronutrients and phytochemicals, but cruciferous vegetables are unique – they contain compounds called glucosinolates which are responsible for their pungent or bitter flavors.  When cell walls are broken by blending or chopping, a chemical reaction occurs that converts glucosinolates to isothiocyanates (ITCs) – compounds with proven anti-cancer activities. The many ITCs work synergistically to remove carcinogens, kill cancer cells, and prevent tumors from growing.1 Some ITC can even help the body excrete estrogen and other hormones, reducing the risk for hormonal cancers.2

Cruciferous vegetables are twice as powerful as other plant foods.  In population studies, a 20% increase in plant food intake generally corresponds to a 20% decrease in cancer rates, but a 20% increase in cruciferous vegetable intake corresponds to a 40% decrease in cancer rates.3

Cruciferous vegetables are not only the most powerful anti-cancer foods in existence, they are also the most nutrient dense of all the vegetables.  Although the National Cancer Institute recommends 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables per day for cancer prevention, but they have not yet established specific recommendations for cruciferous vegetables.  I recommend 6 fresh fruits and 8 total servings of vegetables per day including 2 servings of cruciferous vegetables – one raw and one cooked.  Remember: chopping, chewing, blending, or juicing cruciferous vegetables allows for production of ITCs.  Consuming a large variety of these ITC-rich cruciferous vegetables within an overall nutrient-dense diet can provide us with a profound level of protection against cancer.  

For your next cruciferous vegetable dish, try one of these great recipes! 


Dr. Fuhrman is a New York Times best-selling author, nutritional researcher and board certified family physician specializing in nutritional medicine.  Learn more by visiting his informative website at

John Allen Mollenhauer is the founder of a Nutritional Education Trainer, and leading authority on Performance Lifestyle, which teaches people how to live a healthy lifestyle successfully and develop Your Lifestyle to better achieve your goals.

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