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Take note of these colon healthy foods

Updated: Mar 7, 2023

When it comes to nutrition, vegetables called cruciferous are in a class all their own. These vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals, and other compounds

that can have powerful health benefits and impact colon health.

Cruciferous vegetables are known for their health benefits, which include reducing the risk of cancer, heart disease, and stroke. Much of their benefit comes from compounds which improve the health of your colon.

These vegetables may also reduce menopausal symptoms and fatigue after breast cancer. Let's take a closer look at some of the other specific benefits of these power-packed veggies, including cancer, heart health, and colon health.

kale and pasta

Reduce inflammation for colon health

One of the most well-known health benefits of cruciferous vegetables is their cancer preventing properties. These vegetables sulfur-containing compounds known as

glucosinolates, which break down into cancer-fighting substances when they're consumed. Studies have shown that cruciferous vegetables can help to protect against various types of cancer, including lung cancer, breast cancer, stomach cancer, and ovarian cancer.

In addition to their cancer-preventing properties, cruciferous vegetables are also good for your heart. These veggies are rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals like potassium and magnesium, all of which are essential for maintaining a healthy heart. Fiber helps to lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease, while vitamins and minerals help to keep blood pressure in check.

Another benefit of cruciferous vegetables is that they're great for your digestive system. These veggies are high in fiber and water content, both of which are necessary for keeping your digestive system regular. Fiber adds bulk to stool and helps food move through your intestines more quickly, while water helps to keep things flowing smoothly. In addition, the sulforaphane found in cruciferous veggies has been shown to boost colon health by reducing inflammation and promoting the growth of good bacteria in the gut.

chopped kale
Chopped kale

Surprising types of foods for colon health

Cruciferous vegetables include a variety of colorful vegetables. Broccoli and kale might be the most well-known, but there are many others to choose from. They include:

  • broccoli

  • cabbage

  • cauliflower

  • swiss chard

  • Brussels sprouts

  • arugula

  • mustard greens

  • kohlrabi

  • broccoli rabe

  • collards

  • tatsoi

  • mizuna

  • watercress

  • turnip

  • rutabaga

  • radishes

  • daikon radish

  • horseradish

  • wasabi

  • maca

Surprised? Even if you dislike some vegetables, experiment with new cooking methods. Whatever method you prefer: sauté, roast, steam, or grill. Some cruciferous vegetables taste bitter, but cooking brings out their sweeter side.

mustard green
Mustard Green

Cooking methods for colon health

Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower

This classic dish is both healthy and delicious. Simply toss broccoli and/or cauliflower florets with olive oil and roast in a hot oven, 400° F, until they are crisp-tender. Serve with your family's favorite dipping sauce.

Brussels Sprouts

You can enjoy these tasty little crucifers both cooked and raw. To make a shredded salad, simply run your Brussels through a food processor with the slicing or grating blade in place, depending on how fine you want the texture. Toss with a sweet and savory dressing like a maple mustard vinaigrette, as the sweetness will temper the bitter flavor of the sprouts.

Cauliflower Rice

Simply grate the cauliflower into small pieces using a box grater, then cook it in a hot pan with some olive oil until it is soft and fluffy. Cauliflower rice is excellent in stir fries sautéed with some sesame oil, ginger, scallions, and other vegetables.

Braised Cabbage

Slice cabbage into thin wedges, then simmer in a sauté pan with vegetable broth until it is soft and tender, adding more broth as needed. Serve topped with fresh herbs, crushed pistachios, and a squeeze of lemon.

Arugula Salad

Did you know that there are several leafy greens that are also crucifers? Arugula and kale top the list! Their bitter flavor is a clear sign that the health-promoting compounds, glucosinolates, are present. Temper the bitterness with a dressing that has a touch of sweetness and citrus, both of which contribute to balancing the flavor.

Sautéed Kale

The only thing better than a massaged kale salad is sautéed kale. Like all cruciferous vegetables, kale has a bite that is softened when cooked. Remove tough spines from kale and break leaves into bite-sized pieces. Add to a sauté pan with some olive oil and minced ginger and cook over medium heat until the kale turns bright green and is fragrant. Finish with a squeeze of lime. The vitamin C from the lime will aid in the absorption of iron from the kale and the olive oil will aid in the absorption of vitamin A, which is abundant in this leafy crucifer.

To your colon health

Cruciferous vegetables are one of the best ways to prevent cancer and protect your heart and colon. Try them all, from cabbage to wasabi, arugula to cauliflower, cooked or raw. Sauté, roast, steam, or grill, then top with your preferred dressing. Experimenting with them will introduce you to new flavors and textures that are also beneficial to your colon health!

As a registered dietitian nutritionist who works with people experiencing cancer, I’d love to help. I offer clients support to plan, shop, and prepare more nutritious and healthy meals for yourself or your family. Here is my link to book a chat about making sure to meet your nutritional needs.

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