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Cruciferous vegetables are the nutrient powerhouses belonging to the broccoli family. These include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, watercress, bok choy and turnips.

These vegetables have so many health benefits – they’re all high in fibre, vitamins and minerals and contain a high level of antioxidants. Studies have shown eating cruciferous vegetables regularly helps provide protection against cancer.

broccoli brussels sprouts cauliflower cabbage watercress
Broccoli Brussels sprouts Cauliflower Cabbage Watercress

Choosing cruciferous vegetables

You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to cruciferous vegetables. Along with traditional varieties of broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower, you’ll now find newer varieties, such as broccoflower, at your local grocery store. Other broccoli varieties include broccolini, which has smaller heads and longer stems, and purple broccoli. Look out for Asian varieties of cruciferous vegetables, such as Chinese broccoli and bok choy, as these are equally nutritious and offer a whole new flavour profile.

When you’re shopping, look for fresh florets and leaves with strong colours. Brown tips on broccoli or cauliflower florets indicate the vegetable will taste bitter.

Storing cruciferous vegetables

Keep your cruciferous vegetables wrapped in the fridge. Eat them as quickly as possible for maximum freshness and taste.

Using cruciferous vegetables

There are endless uses for these versatile veggies. From salads to stir-fries to salads, they add flavour, colour and texture to any food. Remember not to overcook them though – especially broccoli and cabbage. Many nutrients will be lost if you cook cruciferous vegetables for too long. Broccoli can be eaten raw if you choose to add it to a salad, or alternatively you can blanch it or lightly steam and cool before adding to your salad.

Great ways to add cruciferous vegetables to your diet include:

  • Adding them to stir fries
  • Using them raw or cooked in salads
  • Roasting veggies and serving with a source of protein
  • Barbecuing or grilling cruciferous veggies
  • Add to curries or stews
  • Cook and blend into vegetable soups
Calorie King
CalorieKing's mission is to provide the best information, tools and education to Australians to help them conquer their weight.

CalorieKing is the brainchild of Allan Borushek, registered dietitian, co-found here at food.com.au and author of "Allan Borushek's Pocket Calorie & Fat Counter", Australia's best-selling calorie counter for over 30 years.
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