Why Are Cruciferous Vegetables Considered Superfoods?

Let's begin by answering two questions: What are cruciferous vegetables, and what are superfoods? Put simply, cruciferous vegetables are cold weather vegetables that form flowers in the shape of a cross, hence the name (via Gardening Know How). The Cruciferae family consists of a wide range of vegetables, but the most common are broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower, as well as certain greens such as collards, arugula, and kale. Other cruciferous vegetables are radishes, turnips, horseradish, kohlrabi, bok choy, and even wasabi.

Medical News Today describes superfoods as foods with a very high nutritional density. By containing high volumes of minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants, they provide lots of nutrients while being low in calories. Research has shown that superfoods should not be considered a cure-all, but that they contain antioxidants that may help prevent cancer and heart disease, decrease inflammation, and improve immune function. So it's true that cruciferous vegetables are considered superfoods, but why?

Be sure to eat your broccoli

Superfood simply refers to a food that's rich in nutrients and believed to provide health benefits; however, according to Harvard Health Publishing, there is no standard scientific understanding of the name, nor are there regulations about how it gets applied to food labels. The Harvard Health Blog claims cruciferous vegetables are considered superfoods because they are a good source of fiber, vitamins, and certain phytochemicals which may help prevent certain types of cancer. As a rule of thumb, you can think of all dark, leafy greens and very fibrous vegetables, similar to the ones mentioned, as superfoods, as they are all cruciferous vegetables.  

Now that we know these vegetables are "super" healthy, how can you incorporate them into your diet? Most of the vegetables in this family are great for mixing into stir frys, adding to pastas, or turning into soups. They can also be used as components in salads, roasted, as side dishes, or baked into casseroles. With such a variety of vegetables included in the list, the options are countless. Even though, as mentioned, superfoods will never be the ultimate cure, they are healthy foods that should be incorporated into any diet. But eating your vegetables doesn't have to be a drag — this radish pesto with pasta is so good, you'll forget how good it is for you.