Cruciferous vegetables have received quite a bit of media attention in recent years for their exceptional health benefits. Not only have they been associated with promoting weight loss, they have also been shown to ward off cancer, regulate blood sugar, reduce inflammation, support estrogen balance, and improve heart health.
If you’re looking for healthy foods to help you shed pounds more quickly, look no further. Many of the most nutritious, low-calorie foods you can eat are included in the following cruciferous vegetables list for faster weight loss.
What Are Cruciferous Vegetables?
Cruciferous vegetables are plants belonging to the Brassicaceae family and are also known as “brassica” vegetables. Some of the most common vegetables in this family are broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, radishes and kale.
The cruciferous vegetables are packed with nutrients, including unique sulfur-containing compounds called glucosinolates. The glucosinolates give cruciferous vegetables their characteristic strong taste and pungent smell. Several studies have linked the unique compounds in cruciferous vegetables with potent cancer-protective effects. (1)
The nutritional profiles vary between the individual types of cruciferous vegetables, but they all tend to be high in vitamins A, C and K along with having a high fiber content.
Main Types of Vegetables in the Cruciferous Family
The Brassicaceae family of vegetables is composed of three main types or “subgroups” of cruciferous vegetables: (1) the broccoli subgroup, (2) the “leafy greens” subgroup, and (3) the root vegetables subgroup.
The Broccoli Subgroup
Vegetables in this subgroup include:
- Broccoli sprouts
- Brussels sprouts
- Cabbage (green and red)
Broccoli is well-known for being low in calories and high in nutrients and fiber. A cup of cooked broccoli supplies your body with healthy amounts of calcium, potassium, iron and vitamin C, while containing only 55 calories.
Even more impressively, an important review of studies published in 2016 found that broccoli glucosinolates promote cancer cell death, or apoptosis. Broccoli’s cancer-protective actions were also observed to work against a broad scope of cancers, including prostate, lung and breast. (2)
The 2016 review also noted the exceptional health-promoting properties of the immature shoots of broccoli known as “broccoli sprouts.” The raw broccoli sprouts contain 10 to 100 times the glucosinolates found in mature broccoli. Plus, the sprouts have been linked to lower cholesterol levels, better insulin utilization, and decreases in blood pressure. (2)
The Leafy Greens Subgroup
Several leafy greens are also included in the brassica family:
- Bok choy (Chinese cabbage)
- Collard greens
- Mustard greens
- Swiss chard
Cruciferous leafy greens are a wise choice for supplying your bones with dairy-free calcium. One serving of collard greens, for example, contains 27 percent of the adult daily requirement for calcium, and a cup of cooked mustard greens provides 17 percent.
Kale is similar to broccoli in its nutrient makeup, but a cup of cooked kale has only 36 calories. Kale is also noted for being high in vitamin K, which is necessary for blood clotting and strong bones.
The Root Vegetables Subgroup
A few root vegetables are also categorized as cruciferous:
These root crucifers are best known for their high fiber content, which serves to boost digestive health, along with promoting blood sugar control and weight management. One cup of cooked, mashed turnips, for example, delivers about 18 percent of the recommended daily amount of fiber for an adult.
How to Speed Fat Loss with Cruciferous Veggies
Increasing your intake of all the alkaline-forming vegetables can be beneficial for dieters, due to the body’s decreased need to make extra fat cells for storing waste from acid-forming foods. But cruciferous veggies can go a step beyond other vegetables in offering weight loss benefits due to their higher fiber, lower calories, and higher vitamin and mineral content.
Fiber is the main weight loss “secret weapon” of cruciferous vegetables; it moves slowly through the digestive tract, remaining undigested longer, so it promotes a feeling of satiety or fullness. This makes cruciferous vegetables a great tool for warding off food cravings and feelings of hunger.
Research Supports Weight Loss Benefits
In 2005, a review and analysis of studies observing the correlation between dietary fiber and weight loss was published in Nutrition. The article stated that “the average fiber intake of adults in the United States is less than half recommended levels,” and concluded that people who eat more fiber tend to weigh less. (3)
Another study which followed 252 women for a 20-month period found that increasing dietary fiber significantly reduced their risk of gaining weight and fat. In fact, for each 1-gram increase in dietary fiber intake, body weight was reduced by half a pound, and body fat decreased by .25 percent. (4)
More specific to crucifers, a 24-year meta-study published in PLoS One in 2015 found that each added daily serving of cruciferous veggies was associated with 0.68 pounds of weight loss over a two-year period. (5)
Tips for Reaching Your Weight Loss Goals
Tip #1 – Increase the amount of cruciferous vegetables in your diet. In 2013, the average American only ate 1.6 servings of vegetables per day, far below the recommended 3-5 servings. By following the 75%/25% rule, with 75% of your plate filled with alkaline-forming vegetables, including cruciferous veggies, you’ll have a much better chance of losing weight.
Tip #2 – Eat your veggies raw, steamed, or baked, without added fat such as butter. Take advantage of the high fiber, robust flavor and low calories in cruciferous vegetables. Adding a pat of butter to your broccoli, for instance, would more than double your calories! Opt for more herbs and seasonings on your veggies and ditch the butter for speedier weight loss.
Tip #3 – Don’t be a couch potato. If you really want to make progress on your weight loss goals, add in some cardiovascular exercise (such as walking) and some strength training. This will not only burn more calories, it will also keep you from losing muscle instead of fat.
Precautions for Using Cruciferous Veggies
If you are not already in the habit of eating cruciferous vegetables on a daily basis, you might want to increase your consumption of them slowly. The fiber content of these vegetables undergoes fermentation in the large intestine and can cause flatulence in some people. This can usually be avoided by adding them to the diet gradually and making sure to chew them thoroughly.
Also, there has been some concern about the relationship between cruciferous vegetables and thyroid issues. At this point, research indicates that it would take massive amounts of cruciferous vegetables to cause thyroid damage (i.e. 10+ cups/day), and that the only time it is likely to be a problem is if you already have an iodine deficiency. If you do have thyroid issues, it is best to eat your cruciferous vegetables cooked, and limit intake to 1-2 servings per day.
Start Reaping the Benefits
The news about the many health benefits of cruciferous vegetables has made headlines around the world in recent years. They are becoming more and more popular and are a major ingredient in many kinds of cuisine.
Make sure to include foods every day from the cruciferous vegetables list for faster, healthier weight loss. Help spread the word by sharing your favorite ways to eat them in the comments below.
Sources for this article include:
DISCLAIMER: Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.