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We all know that to be healthy we should eat more vegetables. But did you know that some vegetables are better for you than others? If you want a meal that packs a nutritional punch, add some cruciferous vegetables to your plate. Not only are they known as anti-cancer powerhouses, but their consumption has been associated with reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and increasing longevity. The reason lies in the unique phytochemicals found in cruciferous vegetables.
The Heart Health Benefits of Cruciferous Vegetables
Evidence suggests that cruciferous vegetables have the ability to activate a powerful transcription factor, called Nrf2, within each cell of our body. This protein stimulates the production of our body’s own antioxidant enzymes which offer protection against inflammation. Nrf2 works by binding a specific sequence present in genes called the Antioxidant Response Element (ARE). In the presence of certain phytochemicals, Nrf2 travels to the nucleus of the cell to induce that cell to produce natural antioxidant enzymes and protect against inflammation and reduce oxidative stress, a known cause of cardiovascular disease.
Studies showed that isothiocyanates, derived from cruciferous vegetables, activate Nrf2, which in turn blocks inflammatory gene expression and oxidative stress in endothelial cells, inhibiting aging of the vascular tree.
Once activated by the isothiocyanate sulforaphane, Nrf2 also suppresses the activity of adhesion molecules on the endothelial cell surface to prevent binding of inflammatory cells and therefore retard atherosclerotic plaque development.
The Anti-Cancer and Longevity Rewards
Researchers surveying the diets, lifestyle habits, and medical histories of 134,000 Chinese men and women found an association between a high consumption of cruciferous vegetables and a lowered risk of death from cardiovascular disease and all causes. The 2011 study also noted increased longevity amongst those who ate a diet rich in cruciferous vegetables.
Other observational studies have shown similar benefits in cruciferous vegetables’ ability to offer protection against cancer. For example:
Eat These Beneficial Vegetables Daily
I believe that the following vegetables are essential for excellent health and promotion of maximum lifespan:
Stay Healthy, Eat Cruciferous
The unique antioxidants found in cruciferous vegetables have the ability to modify human hormones, detoxify compounds, and prevent toxic compounds from binding to human DNA, preventing toxins from causing DNA damage that could lead to cancer. I include a variety of longevity-promoting cruciferous vegetables, both raw and lightly cooked in my diet daily and you should, too.
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