In Praise of Brassicas

We're falling in love with Brassicas here at 7th Street Farms--and with many good reasons. Brassica is a very broad genus of plants in the Mustard family. Members of genus Brassica are also greatly represented in the so-called "Cruciferous Vegetables"--cruciferous, because these plants have in common a four-petaled flower which resembles a cross.

Bok Choy,  Broccoli,  Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Collard Greens, Kale,  Rutabaga, and Turnips are just some of these Brassica Cruciferous Veggies.


The cross-like flower of Brassicas: Mizspoona here.

Cancer Preventatives?

Not only are the Cruciferous Vegetables nutritious--these "Dark Green" veggies you've probably heard about--abound in beneficial phytochemicals (like lutein, and beta-carotene); vitamins C, E, and K; folate; not to mention dietary fiber and all those minerals.

They also contain a group of substances known as glucosinolates, which are sulfur-containing chemicals, which the body breaks down into "biologically active compounds" known by cancer researchers to have anticancer effects in mice and rats. The verdict is still out as to whether these chemicals work similarly in human beings, however.

The National Cancer Institute says that "studies in animals and experiments with cells grown in the laboratory have identified several potential ways in which these compounds may help prevent cancer:

    They help protect cells from DNA damage.
    They help inactivate carcinogens.
    They have antiviral and antibacterial effects.
    They have anti-inflammatory effects.
    They induce cell death (apoptosis).
    They inhibit tumor blood vessel formation (angiogenesis) and tumor cell migration (needed for metastasis)."

So, while the Brassicas might have the added benefit of being a cancer preventative--they also simply taste good! Which is reason enough to covet them on your plate.