Crucifere, perché consumarle in inverno?

Crucifers: why eat them in winter?

We welcome the month of December and its seasonal products!
Broccoli, cauliflower, romaine cabbage, savoy cabbage, turnip greens, Brussels sprouts, as well as arugula and turnip. We are talking about crucifers, the large family of food plants commonly known as cabbage.

Resistant to even the coldest climates, rich in valuable nutrients and powerful allies of our bodies, crucifers are among the stars of the diet in the winter season. Let’s find out together why they are so important.

What are the properties

In the face of low caloric intake (about 30 kcal/100 g), they stand out for their good vitamin content: particularly vitamin C, vitamin A, and folic acid. The latter is a very useful micronutrient in the diet of pregnant women for the prevention of spina bifida in the unborn child.
Do you not consume milk, yogurt, cheese and dairy products? Again, cruciferous vegetables are invaluable; did you know that cauliflower is among the vegetables richest in calcium, a mineral essential for your bone health? They are also rich in minerals such as potassium, iron, phosphorus, and sulfur (to which they owe their characteristic sulfurous aroma during prolonged cooking).

Broccoli, cruciferous vegetables why consume them in winter

Why do they have this distinct and unpleasant smell?

This explains why cruciferous plants give off such a distinct and unpleasant odor when you cook them. All “the fault” of sulforaphane: a sulfur-containing phytocompound to which is attributed a very powerful antioxidant action. Despite the annoying smell, this substance is also known to be a formidable antibiotic agent: a study published by Cancer Prevention Research, conducted on 50 people in Japan, found that eating 70 g of broccoli a day for two months protects the stomach and helps control Helicobacter pylori bacteria, which is related to ulcer and other gastrointestinal diseases.

Advice from the Nutritionist

“Doctor, but should cabbage be eaten cooked or raw?”

Let’s take a look together at the properties and benefits of consuming cruciferous vegetables au naturel or after cooking.

Cabbage, cruciferous vegetables why consume them in winterRaw Savoy cabbage salad: it is rich in vitamins A and C, two very powerful antioxidants that can inactivate oxygen free radicals that bombard our cells daily, damaging them. In addition, vitamin A is essential to the proper functioning of vision and to maintaining healthy skin, while vitamin C is essential to strengthening the immune system. These valuable vitamins are inactivated by heat, so it is most important to consume a certain amount of cruciferous vegetables raw, making, for example, a thinly sliced savoy cabbage salad (read to the bottom of the article to find the recipe!).

Fun fact: Did you know that cauliflower and broccoli contain more vitamin C than oranges?

Baked, pan-fried or steamed cabbage: has laxative action due to cellulose, a fiber that we are unable to digest, but which provides significant benefits to the health of our intestines, improving their activity and the well-being of the bacterial flora. A help that is sure to come in handy around the time of the big Christmas binge.

Are there any cases when it is best to avoid them?

Well, yes. As you know, nutrition is extremely subjective, and even a super-food such as the cruciferous family may not be suitable for everyone.
Best to avoid them in cases of irritable colon and meteorism because of their high fiber content. This, fermented by intestinal bacteria, promotes the formation and accumulation of gas that can cause bloating and gastrointestinal discomfort in predisposed individuals.Cauliflower, cruciferous vegetables why consume them in winter
If you suffer from thyroid disease, it is advisable to contain consumption and cook cruciferous vegetables for about 10 minutes to reduce the goitrogenic action of these compounds. In fact, while being valuable allies for the prevention of numerous diseases, some phytocompounds in cruciferous plants are able to hinder iodine uptake by the thyroid gland and interfere with the synthesis of thyroid hormones.
Finally, be careful if you take anticoagulant drugs such as warfarin (Coumadin). Excessive consumption of these vegetables could reduce the action of the drug because of their vitamin K content.

Cruciferae in cooking: the recipe for keeping them intact.

One of the most common mistakes in using cruciferous vegetables in cooking is to cook them for too long and with too much water.

This habit can cause considerable loss of vitamins and minerals that are inactivated in the heat or leach into the cooking water. Therefore, it is recommended to boil these vegetables for a few minutes by steaming, pan-frying, or baking.

Finally, I propose a quick and original idea to consume them even raw.

Christmas salad of cabbage, anchovies and walnuts

– Head cabbage
– Anchovy fillets
– Walnuts
– Oil, apple cider vinegar and salt

Doses are left to the taste and imagination of the person preparing and consuming the dish.

Carefully wash and dry the cabbage, cut it finely, add salt and squeeze it with your hands so as to break up its fibers and make it more delicate to the palate. Add the anchovies and walnut kernels. Season with EVO oil and apple cider vinegar. For an even fresher and fancier result, add half an apple or a finely sliced orange to the salad.

And how do you consume cruciferous vegetables?

If you’d like, please leave your favorite kitchen pairings in the comments.

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