As autumn arrives, cruciferous vegetables make a comeback on our tables. These vegetables are known for being rich in various essential nutrients, low in calories, and exceptionally high in fiber

But what exactly are cruciferous vegetables, and what sets them apart?

Cruciferous Vegetables: What Are They? 

Cruciferous vegetables are a group of vegetables that belong to the Brassicaceae family, named so because of their cross shape. 

This group of vegetables includes:

  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Kale
  • Turnip
  • Savoy cabbage
  • Daikon

Cruciferous vegetables are not only low in calories but also rich in essential nutrients such as:

  • Folate
  • Vitamins C, E, and K
  • Fibers 

Broccoli: The Benefits

Broccoli, a perennial cruciferous vegetable, is commonly found on tables in winter. It is rich in antioxidants and compounds with anti-cancer properties. 

Vitamin C found in broccoli serves several functions, including: 

  • Acting as an immunomodulator 
  • Aiding in fighting infections
  • Supporting collagen synthesis 

Vitamin A is essential to support the health of:

  • Skin
  • Mucous membranes
  • Eyesight

Additionally, broccoli contributes to good blood coagulation through its vitamin K content and promotes proper metabolism with the help of B vitamins. 

Folates in broccoli play a vital role in developing the nervous system during gestation. 

Moreover, broccoli provides significant amounts of potassium, supporting cardiovascular health, while calcium and phosphorus contribute to maintaining healthy bones and teeth.

In the kitchen, broccoli can be:

  • Steamed
  • Consumed raw with extra virgin olive oil
  • Blanched
  • Included in one-pot meals with grains and legumes
  • Used as a condiment for pasta
  • Used as a base for soups
  • Roasted in the oven with olive oil, salt, pepper, or spices

Savoy Cabbage: The Benefits

Savoy cabbage, also known as “Milan cabbage,” is a variety of cabbage characterized by its wrinkled, large, and crisp green leaves. This nutrient-rich cruciferous vegetable offers numerous health benefits.

Savoy cabbage is rich in dietary fiber, which promotes healthy digestion and maintains proper gastrointestinal function.

It is also a good source of various vitamins, including vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin K, and folate, essential in supporting overall health and well-being.

Savoy cabbage contains minerals such as potassium and magnesium, essential for maintaining healthy bodily functions. It fights hypertension and reduces bad cholesterol levels, lowering the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Savoy cabbage can support the liver in its natural cleansing processes, helping to detoxify the body. Furthermore, the presence of glutamine in savoy cabbage provides anti-inflammatory benefits, promoting a healthy inflammatory response.

It possesses healing properties and acts as a diuretic, aiding in fluid balance and promoting detoxification

The beta-carotene and glucosinolate content of savoy cabbage makes it an anti-cancer food, offering potential protection against certain types of cancer. 

In the kitchen, savoy cabbage can be used in various ways, such as in soups, as a side dish, or even as rolls. It is also a key ingredient in the famous Milanese dish called “cassoeûla.” 

Cabbage: The Benefits 

Cabbage is another cruciferous vegetable that offers a range of health benefits. It comes in various shapes and colors, such as red, purple, white, and green, with leaves that can be rippled or smooth. 

With just 22 calories per 100 grams, cabbage contains approximately 85 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin K and significant amounts of vitamins A, B6, and C. It is also a good source of essential minerals like:

  • Magnesium
  • Calcium
  • Potassium

Furthermore, cabbage is rich in fiber and contains potent antioxidants, including polyphenols and sulfur compounds, which help protect the body against damage caused by free radicals. Notably, red cabbage contains anthocyanins (pigments that can reduce the risk of heart disease). 

Cabbage can be baked, pan-fried, used in gratins, or incorporated into pasta dishes. Its versatility and quick cooking time make it a convenient choice for many recipes.

Cauliflower: The Benefit 

Cauliflower is naturally rich in fiber and B vitamins, and it also contains small amounts of: 

  • Pantothenic acid
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Manganese

In addition to providing antioxidants and phytonutrients that can protect against cancer, cauliflower is beneficial for digestion due to its fiber content. It also contains choline, which is essential for learning and memory. 

In the kitchen, cauliflower can be steamed, accompanied by raw extra virgin olive oil, blanched and used in one-pot meals with grains and legumes, or used as a condiment for pasta. It also serves as an excellent ingredient for soups and can be roasted in the oven with olive oil, salt, pepper, or spices.

An Unexpected Cruciferous Plant: Arugula

Arugula is another cruciferous plant known for its distinct bitter and slightly spicy flavor. It can be savored raw or cooked and is even used in decoctions and herbal teas due to its beneficial properties.

Rich in minerals like potassium, iron, and calcium, arugula provides a refreshing digestive experience due to its high water content. It is also a great source of:

  • Vitamin C
  • Provitamin A
  • Folic acid (vitamin B9)
  • Vitamin K

Additionally, arugula possesses relaxing properties that can help promote sleep. 

When it comes to cooking, arugula is a flavorful addition to salads, and it can also serve as an excellent base for pesto.