If you’re interested in acupuncture, you’re probably wondering what else you can do to feel your best. Eating your vegetables is one of the most important pieces of health advice out there. Vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber that keep looking and feeling out best. There’s one type of vegetable that is particularly helpful and should be eaten everyday. These are the cruciferous (aka brassica) vegetables.
Benefits of Cruciferous Vegetables
Acupuncture works by helping the body to heal itself. You need the raw materials, the building blocks, available in your system for your body to use to repair and heal. Phytonutrients, or phytochemicals, are chemicals produced by plants that give them their color, smell, and taste. Cruciferous vegetables are very high in phytonutrients that are anti-inflammotory, anti-oxidant, and promote detoxification. They are a great source the of nutritional building blocks our body needs to heal effectively and prevent disease.
The color pigment in food is a type of phytonutrient, and different colors have different compounds and benefits. White is a color, too, and also has health benefits. Eating a “rainbow diet,” popularized by Dr. Ornish, is a great way to ensure you’re getting many different types of healing nutrients. Our bodies are constantly exposed to substances that damage us, and we even produce damaging free-radicals through normal metabolic processes. Phytonutrients help the body detoxify and repair itself. They reduce inflammation and prevent disease.
Another important phytonutrient abundant in many cruciferous foods is called sulforaphane. Yes, these can be some stinky vegetables, but that’s what makes them so healthy! Sulforaphane is an important nutrient to help the liver detoxify harmful substances and eliminate them from the body. To get the most sulforaphane, chop up your brocolli and let it sit for a few minutes. The damage to the plant from chopping it will activate an enzyme which synthesizes more sulforaphane. You can then lightly cook it.
How much to eat?
It’s important to supply ourselves with nutrients to heal and protect. Our bodies can and will detoxify and heal, but they need the raw materials in order to do so. Start with a goal of eating one cup of cruciferous vegetables a day.
1 bag frozen broccoli
high-heat cooking oil like avocado, grapeseed, or coconut
crushed red pepper flakes
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Oil a baking sheet or line with parchment paper or foil. Spread frozen broccoli over baking sheet and lightly coat with 1/2-1 tablespoon of oil. Roast at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees and let cook for another 20-30 minutes. Broccoli should have some browned edges and be fork tender. Remove from oven, and sprinkle with soy sauce, garlic powder, and crushed red pepper to your taste preferences. Goes well with fish or any proteins, or can be added to pasta or other whole grain dish.
Red Cabbage Slaw
1/2 head red cabbage
juice of 1/2 lime
1 tbls soy sauce
1 tbls olive oil (optional)
optional: finely cut celery, shredded carrots, green onions
Finely cut cabbage into narrow strips, or use a grater or food processor. Put in a bowl and sprinkle with salt. Give it a mix. In a separate bowl, mix lime juice, soy sauce, and oil. Tastes fine without oil, but I usually add it anyway. Mix up the liquids, then pour over the cabbage. Stir to coat it, and add any other ingredients to your liking. Tastes great on just about anything! Eat over whole grain bowls, paleo bowls with sweet potatoes and protein, with fish, on tacos, I’ve even added it to soup.
Cauliflower as a potato substitute.
Potato skin is high in potassium and fiber, but potatoes themselves can cause blood sugar issues for people and be too high in calories for a sedentary lifestyle. They also trigger joint pain for people with night shade sensitivities.
Not really a recipe, but add cauliflower chunks to soup instead of potatoes. They are filling and satisfying. You can also use cauliflower for a mock potato salad. My dad claims steamed cauliflower can be used instead of potatoes and no one knows the difference, but I haven’t tried that yet. Try it and let me know!