List of the Healthiest Brassica Vegetables (Plus Overview of Their Benefits)
By now, we all know that broccoli is good for you, but this nutritional heavyweight is hardly the only Brassica vegetable that has impressive nutritional properties. In this article, we take a look at six super-healthy Brassica vegetables and explain why these veggies might just be the healthiest Brassicas you'll ever eat. At the end of this article you'll also find an extensive list of Brassica vegetables.
6 Healthiest Vegetables in the Brassica Family of Plants
Note: As there is no agreement among scientists on how to measure the 'healthiness' of a food, the list of the healthiest Brassica vegetables presented below is completely subjective.
Eruca sativa, Brassica eruca L.
All common Brassica vegetables supply cancer-fighting isothiocyanates, but arugula, also known as salad rocket, is right there on top of the world's best cancer-fighting foods. A study funded by Australia's Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) assessed the anti-cancer potential of a number of Brassica vegetables based on the vegetable's glucosinolate content and the likelihood that that the glucosinolates it contains will actually be converted into the biologically active isothiocyanates. Among mature Brassica vegetables, arugula was the clear winner, followed by daikon, broccoli, wasabi, and garden cress. For more information about arugula, check out the article Health Benefits of Arugula (Beyond Anti-Cancer Effects.
Brassica oleracea var. gemmifera
The Australian study that ranked arugula greens as having the highest anti-cancer potential among Brassicas had one major drawback: it did not assess the anti-cancer potential of Brussels sprouts. In other Brassica studies, Brussels sprouts have been ranked as one the very best sources of glucosinolates. In addition, Brussels sprouts have been reported to contain more vitamin C than oranges and almost twice as much vitamin K as red cabbage. For details, see Health Benefits of Brussels Sprouts.
Brassica oleracea var. capitata f. rubra
You may have already heard of anthocyanins, flavonoid pigments that give many black and purple 'superberries' – such as blackberries, aronia berries, blueberries, and elderberries – their intense colors and wonderful health benefits. But anthocyanins are also found in a number of vegetables, including purple cauliflower, eggplant, purple carrots, and – that's right – purple cabbage! Anthocyanins are considered one of the most important nutrients for eye health, but recent research suggests that due to their strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, these flavonoids may also help alleviate certain inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. To learn how red cabbage compares with white cabbage, check out our in-depth article Health Benefits of White vs Red Cabbage.
Brassica oleracea (Capitata Group)
With its relatively mild flavor, savoy cabbage is a great choice for people who are looking to add more Brassicas to their diets but who are put off by the strong flavor of Brussels sprouts, regular cabbage, and arugula. Culinary benefits aside, savoy cabbage is also one of the healthiest brassica vegetables. Along with Brussels sprouts, broccoli and arugula, savoy cabbage is one of the best natural sources of glucosinolates. In particular the late-season savoy variety 'Wirosa cabbage' has been shown to contain exceptionally high levels of these beneficial phytochemicals. For details, see Savoy Cabbage: A Soup Ingredient with Impressive Health Benefits.
Supercharged with antioxidants like vitamin C, beta-carotene, kaempferol and quercetin, kale is one of the vegetables with the highest total antioxidant capacity, as measured by ORAC. Only a handful of common vegetables – including red cabbage, savoy cabbage, raw garlic, sweet potatoes, beet greens and arugula – have been reported to have a higher ORAC rating than kale. For more information about the health benefits of curly kale, check out the articles Health Benefits of Curly Kale and Health Benefits of Black Kale (Cavolo Nero) Or, if you're a sprout fan, check out the article Benefits of Eating Kale Sprouts.
The health benefits of Brassica vegetables are legendary, but also Brassica sprouts and microgreens are supercharged with health-boosting nutrients and phytochemicals. In recent studies, radish, broccoli, and kohlrabi sprouts, in particular, have stood out due to their exceptionally high anti-cancer potential. The Australian brassica study that ranked arugula as a top source of glucosinolates among mature Brassica vegetables, for example, found that radish, kohlrabi, and broccoli sprouts appeared to have even stronger anti-cancer potential than mature arugula greens. For in-depth information, see Radish Sprouts: Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits and Health Benefits of Broccoli Sprouts.
List of Brassica Vegetables
Variety is key to any healthy diet, and to reap the wonderful health benefits of cruciferous vegetables, it is a good idea to eat a variety of Brassicas, not only those listed above as the healthiest Brassica vegetables. Here's a list of common and some less common Brassica vegetables you might want to consider including in your diet:
- Arugula (salad rocket)
- Bok choy (pak-choi)
- Broccoli rabe (rapini)
- Brussels sprouts
- Chinese broccoli (gai-lan)
- Chinese cabbage or napa cabbage
- Collard greens
- Daikon radish
- Garden cress
- Kohlrabi (German turnip)
- Komatsuna (Japanese mustard spinach)
- Mizuna (Japanese mustard)
- Red cabbage
- Savoy cabbage
- Tatsoi (spinach mustard, rosette bok choy)
- White Cabbage
- Wild broccoli
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