You know that feeling when you read a study, or a report about a study, proving something that you already knew through basic common sense? I get that feeling a lot when I’m clicking around the internet. The other day I read a short article about how vegetables are good for me; why didn’t somebody tell me before!? So many wasted years! But seriously, at the risk of doing a double-blind randomized control study to prove the benefits of oxygen, I wanted to give a little plug for the much-maligned brassicas, so you can eat them everyday, just like your grandma told you. And also reward you with a recipe or two.
Brassicas, also known as cruciferous vegetables, are a family of plants characterized by their sharp, spicy (some say bitter) flavour. It includes broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, rutabaga, turnips, bok choy, and Chinese cabbage. Advocates for health and disease prevention are united on the importance of eating the rainbow: enjoy many servings a day of colourful vegetables, rich in vitamins and minerals. Plant foods (and that includes whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds) are rich in phytonutrients. These are compounds which, while they are not essential, impart protection from chronic illness. In fact, they help protect the plant from insects, disease, and UV damage.
Brassicas are unique in the plant world because unlike other vegetables, they contain large amounts of glucosinolates, sulfur-containing compounds responsible for that distinctive flavour and aroma. When glucosinolates are broken down through chopping or chewing, biologically active compounds called isothiocyanates are formed. These compounds are being actively studied by cancer researchers for their chemoprotective qualities, as diets rich in these compounds are associated with reduced risk of certain types of cancer.
So, on the off-chance your grandma didn’t stress this enough, you should probably eat your brussel’s sprouts. But rather than boiling them into a coma, try oven-roasting them with a light coating of olive oil and rock salt. Coconut oil will also give the a lovely flavour. Here’s one of my favourite salads lately.