Invite the Cruciferous Family for Dinner

| January 24, 2013 | 0 Comments

Hip­pocrates, the found­ing father of mod­ern med­i­cine once said, “Let food be your med­i­cine and med­i­cine be your food.” In our fast-paced cul­ture, we’ve largely for­got­ten this con­cept. With lit­tle time to eat, we often grab fast and processed foods noto­ri­ous for their poor nutri­tional content.


If we are really inter­ested in achiev­ing and main­tain­ing good health, we should be reach­ing pri­mar­ily for plants instead. Plants, espe­cially organ­i­cally grown fruits, veg­eta­bles and whole grains are packed full of so many health-promoting and pro­tect­ing nutri­ents that those who con­sume 7 or more serv­ings of them every day gen­er­ally enjoy the best health.

Cer­tain plants have been found to pow­er­fully pro­tect our breast health and ward off breast can­cer. One fam­ily of veg­eta­bles called the Cru­cif­er­ous fam­ily, which includes broc­coli, stands out. (Don’t despair if you don’t like broccoli—you have 14 other veg­eta­bles to choose from! See the table below.) There are sev­eral spe­cial­ized chem­i­cals that all of these veg­eta­bles contain—each with unique abil­i­ties to deter the growth of breast can­cer. One of those chem­i­cals is called sulforaphane.

  • Bit­ter cress
  • Cau­li­flower
  • Radishes
  • Bok choy
  • Col­lard
  • Rutabaga
  • Broc­coli
  • Horse­rad­ish
  • Savoy cab­bage
  • Brus­sels sprouts
  • Kale
  • Turnip
  • Cab­bage
  • Mus­tard seeds
  • Water­cress

*Note: Broc­coli and cau­li­flower spouts con­tain 10–100 times more sul­foraphane than the mature plants do!
Accord­ing to a 2004 study pub­lished in the jour­nal Drug Dis­cov­ery Today, sul­foraphane “can halt human breast can­cer cells in their tracks.” There are three major ways that this plant chem­i­cal has been found to thwart breast can­cer: It increases the activ­ity of liver enzymes respon­si­ble for deac­ti­vat­ing and destroy­ing cancer-causing tox­ins and chem­i­cals and get­ting them out of your body, directly kills breast can­cer cells, and sup­presses the abil­ity of breast can­cer cells to invade into sur­round­ing tissues.

Cru­cif­er­ous veg­eta­bles, as well as cer­tain fruits (such as oranges, apples, and grape­fruit) also have a high con­cen­tra­tion of another phy­to­chem­i­cal that’s effec­tive in pro­tect­ing against can­cer, espe­cially breast cancer—D-glucaric acid. The liver man­u­fac­tures a sub­stance called glu­curonic acid, which binds to tox­ins (includ­ing the “bad” estro­gen) in the liver and deac­ti­vates them. But the enzyme beta-glucuronidase can inter­fere with this effort. It splits the tox­ins off glu­curonic acid and reac­ti­vates them. Researchers have found that peo­ple with a high amount of beta-glucuronidase in the blood have an increased risk of var­i­ous can­cers, par­tic­u­larly the hormone-dependent ones, such as breast, prostate, and colon cancers.

Here is where the phy­to­chem­i­cal D-glucaric acid comes to the res­cue: It stops the activ­ity of beta-glucuronidase, keep­ing the harm­ful estro­gens and other tox­ins bound to glu­curonic acid and deac­ti­vated. Sim­ply put, D-glucaric acid strength­ens the body’s nat­ural defenses against tox­ins. The liver makes a small amount of D-glucaric acid, but not enough for you to reap the great­est ben­e­fits. You can sig­nif­i­cantly increase the level of this pro­tec­tive sub­stance in your body by eat­ing plenty of cru­cif­er­ous veg­eta­bles and cer­tain fruits or by tak­ing a sup­ple­ment that comes in the form of a cal­cium salt called cal­cium D-gluterate. Research shows that this sup­ple­ment is just as effec­tive as nat­ural D-glucaric acid. Tak­ing sup­ple­men­tal cal­cium D-gluterate may give some added pro­tec­tion against breast can­cer, but long-term stud­ies still need to be done.

The abil­ity of cru­cif­er­ous veg­eta­bles to fight can­cer is so out­stand­ing that you’ll want to make sure you invite one of them to your din­ner table every day!


christinahornerAbout Chris­tine Horner, MD
Chris­tine Horner, MD is a board cer­ti­fied and nation­ally rec­og­nized sur­geon, author, expert in nat­ural med­i­cine, pro­fes­sional speaker and a relent­less cham­pion for women’s health. She is the author of Wak­ing the War­rior God­dess: Dr. Chris­tine Horner’s Pro­gram to Pro­tect Against and Fight Breast Can­cer, win­ner of the Inde­pen­dent Book Pub­lish­ers Award 2006 for Best Book in Health, Med­i­cine, and Nutri­tion.  Visit

Category: Nourish

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