Cruciferous vegetables are among some of the most powerful detoxifiers known to this day! Before we get into the reasons why, you might want to know exactly what cruciferous vegetables are.
Cruciferous vegetables are vegetables of the family Brassicaceae (also called Cruciferae). These include arugula, bok choy, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, chinese cabbage, collard greens, daikon radish, horseradish, kale, kohlrabi, maca, mustard greens, mustard seeds, radish, rapini (broccoli rabe), turnip, and watercress.
Alright, here we go!
Cruciferous Vegetables Contain Glucosinolates
Glucosinolates are powerful compounds found inside of cruciferous vegetables which breakdown in our body to form different isothiocyanates (1). There are quite a few different isothiocyanates and on top of having very long “sciency” sounding names they contain many powerful benefits. One of these benefits is to boost the detoxification powers of the liver.
If you want to understand what the heck I’m talking about when I say phase II detoxification below, then I strongly recommend you read another article I wrote about how a healthy liver cleanses and detoxifies the body.
Many Isothiocyanates Boost Phase II Detoxification
An isothiocyanate named Sulforaphane as well as other isothiocyanates which are found in cruciferous vegetables induce phase II detoxification enzymes, and there is mounting evidence which indicates that the induction of phase II detoxification enzymes results in protection against toxicity and chemical carcinogenesis (2). The risk of exposure to xenobiotic toxicity is specifically defended against by the induction of phase II detoxification enzymes (3).
What The Heck Are Xenobiotic Toxins You May Wonder?
Yes, this is all getting more and more “sciency” and honestly I’ve had to learn a whole lot over the past years to get myself to the point where I even understand half of this stuff!
Xenobiotic toxins seriously sounds like an alien invader or something right? At minimum it sounds like something that’s possibly not of this world? It’s actually pretty straight forward and they are from this world! Well at least all of the ones we know about so far…
Xenobiotic toxins are foreign chemical substances that are not normally naturally produced or expected to be present within our body. These also include substances which are present in much higher concentrations than are usual. Carcinogens, drugs, environmental pollutants, food additives, hydrocarbons, and pesticides are all examples of xenobiotics (4).
So, by consuming cruciferous vegetables you get some nice protection from those not so friendly to your body substances!
Cruciferous Vegetables Contain Indole-3-Carbinol (C9H9NO)
Indole-3-carbinol is produced by the breakdown of the glucosinolate glucobrassicin, which is found in high levels in cruciferous vegetables. This bad boy has been shown to be one of the very few agents that can speed up both Phase I and Phase II detoxification centers in the liver and the intestinal epithelial cells. It’s also been shown to improve Phase II glutathione-S-transferase detoxification activity, which is highly beneficial in the elimination of many dangerous chemicals (5).
Raw Cruciferous Vegetables Contain More Glucosinolates!
All methods of cooking cruciferous vegetables will destroy a lot of the glucosinolates inside (except steaming), so eating them raw or juicing them will provide you with the highest amounts of these detoxifying compounds (6). It is important to note if you have thyroid issues cooking them may be one of your only options. In this case it’s worth it to do so, because while cooking them reduces the amount of glucosinolates that are available to your body there will still be some remaining.
I’ll talk a bit more about this in the section below.
Cruciferous Vegetables Are Unique Indeed
Many of the vegetables, fruits, or herbs that are beneficial for detox usually benefit one phase of detoxification. Cruciferous vegetables benefit both phases and this makes them a very powerful ally for enhancing your body’s detoxification abilities.
Cruciferous Vegetables Contain Goitrogens
This won’t be a big deal for most people, but for some this is very important to know. Goitrogens are substances which are known to interfere with thyroid gland function, mainly in the absence of enough dietary iodine. People who have thyroid issues such as Hypothyroidism will want to keep their consumption of raw cruciferous vegetables to a minimum.
People who don’t suffer from thyroid issues and consume LARGE amounts of raw cruciferous vegetables will want to be sure to get enough iodine in their diet. If you consume some raw cruciferous vegetables here and there you shouldn’t have any issues at all, but it’s wise to make sure you’re getting the daily recommended amount of iodine if you consume a lot of these vegetables in the raw.
I personally have never had any thyroid issues and I consume a lot of raw cruciferous vegetables in their whole form and in the juices I drink, but I make sure that I get at least some iodine into my diet on a regular basis.
If you want to learn a whole lot more about this particular aspect of juicing, you’ll want to read our ultimate guide for juicing and hypothyroidism article.
Check Out Our Juice Cleanse Recipes (Many Include Cruciferous Vegetables!)
Many of our juice cleanse recipes include cruciferous vegetable ingredients. If you’re interested in getting new ideas for how to use cruciferous vegetables in your juice recipes, or you’d like to try some of ours follow this link here. Many of our green juice recipes use different cruciferous vegetable ingredients, and many of our recipes are conveniently grouped by vegetable or fruit so you can simply click on the one you’re interested in.
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