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Numbers Game: Answer

cauliflowerDecades of studies on cruciferous vegetables and cancer risk have consistently demonstrated that in order to significantly lower our risk for colorectal, lung, protate, and breast cancers, we should aim for at least 5 – 6 servings per week of cruciferous vegetables.

It’s not as much as you may think.

A mere half-cup (raw or cooked) of broccoli, brusels sprouts, or cauliflower once a day is all you need!

In the case of arugula, bok choy, kale, mustard greens, and swiss chard, one serving is considered one cup when raw and a half-cup if cooked.

For optimal benefits, the recommended way to cook cruciferous vegetables is to lightly steam them, since exposure to high heat for long periods of time deactivates many of the health-promoting active compounds.

As if the health benefits mentioned at the beginning of this post weren’t enough, there is also a significant body of research that links frequent and consistent consumption of cruciferous vegetables with lower risk of cardiovascular disease!

It turns out many of the intrinsic phytonutrients in these foods help reduce cellular inflammation (one of the prime causes of heart disease).



  1. Polly said on January 12th, 2010

    I thought Swiss Chard was a chenopod?

  2. Andy Bellatti said on January 12th, 2010

    I have seen it both ways. I classify it as a cruciferous vegetable based on its health properties and specific phytonutrient content.

  3. Christine said on January 12th, 2010

    It isn’t that much really, is it? I pretty much eat this much already without a lot of effort/thought.

  4. Michael said on January 13th, 2010

    Raw broccoli? I would so appreciate it if you would comment on the raw broccoli/thyroid problem issue that I come across on blogs. I have been steaming my broccoli for the past year after reading far too many articles that state one should not eat it raw. I trust your advise more than the anonymous blogs out there, and I would love your thoughts…

  5. Polly said on January 14th, 2010

    Michael, the thyroid issue is why I wanted to understand the classification of Swiss chard as a brassica. Not that I can think of any time I’ve ever wanted to eat raw Swiss chard!

    My understanding is that all brassicas contain a goitrogen, but one that is killed off in cooking, unlike that in soy. It’s only an issue if you already have (or have a strong family history of) thyroid disease/malfunction. I am hypothyroid (controlled) and now eat raw brassicas only occasionally. I miss raw cabbage the most.

    The question I have (and I’ve had no luck finding any answer) is what about broccoli sprouts? Are they better, worse or much the same as headed broccoli for those with thyroid issues?

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