Full health rundown by whfoods.com:
Cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage, and kale,contain compounds that may help prevent cancer. These compounds appearto stop enzymes from activating cancer-causing agents in the body, andthey increase the activity of enzymes that disable and eliminatecarcinogens.
Epidemiological studies have long suggested a connectionbetween these vegetables and resistance to cancer. However, only in thepast decade have we begun to understand how these compounds work.
Sulfur-Containing Phytonutrients Promote Liver Detoxification
We now know that cruciferous vegetables contain both glucosinolatesand thiocyanates (including sulforaphane and isothiocyanate). Thesecompounds increase the liver's ability to neutralize potentially toxicsubstances.
If potentially toxic molecules are not properly and rapidlydetoxified in the liver, they can damage cell membranes and moleculessuch as DNA within the cell nucleus. Such damage can start a chainreaction that may eventually lead to carcinogenesis-cell deregulationand uncontrolled growth.
Many enzymes found in cauliflower also help with thedetoxifying process. These enzymes include glutathione transferase,glucuronosyl transferase, and quinone reductase.
Both animal and human studies show increased detoxificationenzyme levels from high-glucosinolate diets. Researchers suggest thatthis helps explain the epidemiological association between a highintake of cruciferous vegetables and a decreased risk of certaincancers.
New Research Expands our Understanding of How Cruciferous Vegetables Promote Optimal HealthNewresearch has greatly advanced scientists' understanding of just howcruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kale andBrussels sprouts help prevent cancer. When these vegetables are cut,chewed or digested, a sulfur-containing compound called sinigrin isbrought into contact with the enzyme myrosinase, resulting in therelease of glucose and breakdown products, including highly reactivecompounds called isothiocyanates. Isothiocyanates are not only potentinducers of the liver's Phase II enzymes, which detoxify carcinogens,but research recently conducted at the Institute for Food Research inthe U.K. shows one of these compounds, allyl isothicyanate, alsoinhibits mitosis (cell division) and stimulates apoptosis (programmedcell death) in human tumor cells.
Sulforaphane, a compound formed when cruciferous vegetables arechopped or chewed, is already known to trigger the liver to produceenzymes that detoxify cancer-causing chemicals, inhibitchemically-induced breast cancers in animal studies, and induce coloncancer cells to commit suicide.An in vitro study published in the Journal of Nutritionsuggests that sulforaphane can also help stop the proliferation ofbreast cancer cells, even in the later stages of their growth.
Sulforaphane may also offer special protection to those with coloncancer-susceptible genes, suggests a study conducted at RutgersUniversity and published online on May 4, 2006, in the journal Carcinogenesis.
In this study, researchers sought to learn whether sulforaphanecould inhibit cancers arising from one's genetic makeup. Rutgersresearchers Ernest Mario, Ah-Ng Tony Kong and colleagues used mice bredwith a genetic mutation that switches off the tumor suppressor geneknown as APC, the same gene that is inactivated in the majority ofhuman colon cancers. Animals with this mutation spontaneously developintestinal polyps, the precursors to colon cancer. The study found thatanimals who were fed sulforaphane had tumors that were smaller, grewmore slowly and had higher apoptotic (cell suicide) indices.Additionally, those fed a higher dose of sulforaphane had less risk ofdeveloping polyps than those fed a lower dose.
The researchers found that sulforaphane suppressed enzymescalled kinases that are expressed not only in laboratory animals, butalso in humans, with colon cancer.According to lead researcher, Dr. Kong, "Our study corroborates thenotion that sulforaphane has chemopreventive activity…Our research hassubstantiated the connection between diet and cancer prevention, and itis now clear that the expression of cancer-related genes can beinfluenced by chemopreventive compounds in the things we eat."
Optimize Your Cells' Detoxification / Cleansing Ability
For about 20 years, we've known that many phytonutrients work asantioxidants to disarm free radicals before they can damage DNA, cellmembranes and fat-containing molecules such as cholesterol. Now, newresearch is revealing that phytonutrients in crucifers, such ascauliflower, work at a much deeper level. These compounds actuallysignal our genes to increase production of enzymes involved indetoxification, the cleansing process through which our bodieseliminate harmful compounds.
The phytonutrients in cruciferous vegetables initiate anintricate dance inside our cells in which gene response elements directand balance the steps among dozens of detoxification enzyme partners,each performing its own protective role in perfect balance with theother dancers. The natural synergy that results optimizes our cells'ability to disarm and clear free radicals and toxins, includingpotential carcinogens, which may be why crucifers appear to lower ourrisk of cancer more effectively than any other vegetables or fruits.
Recent studies show that those eating the most cruciferousvegetables have a much lower risk of prostate, colorectal and lungcancer-even whencompared to those who regularly eat other vegetables:
In a study of over 1,200 men, conducted at the Fred HutchinsonCancer Research Center in Seattle, WA, those eating 28 servings ofvegetables a week had a 35% lower risk of prostate cancer, but thoseconsuming just 3 or more servings of cruciferous vegetables each week had a 44% lower prostate cancer risk.
In the Netherlands Cohort Study on Diet and Cancer, in whichdata was collected on over 100,000 people for more than 6 years, thoseeating the most vegetables benefited with a 25% lower risk ofcolorectal cancers, but those eating the most cruciferous vegetablesdid almost twice as well with a 49% drop in their colorectal cancerrisk.
A study of Chinese women in Singapore, a city in which airpollution levels are often high putting stress on the detoxificationcapacity of residents' lungs, found that in non-smokers, eatingcruciferous vegetables lowered risk of lung cancer by 30%. In smokers,regular cruciferous vegetable consumption reduced lung cancer risk anamazing 69%!
How many weekly servings of cruciferous vegetables do you needto lower your risk of cancer? Just 3 to 5 servings-less than oneserving a day! (1 serving = 1 cup)
To get the most benefit from your cruciferous vegetables likecauliflower, be sure to choose organically grown varieties (theirphytonutrient levels are higher than conventionally grown), and steamlightly (this method of cooking has been shown to not only retain themost phytonutrients but to maximize their availability).For a brief overview of the process through which cruciferousvegetables boost our ability to detoxify or cleanse harmful compoundsand examples of how specific phytonutrients in crucifers work togetherto protect us against cancer, see our FAQ: Optimizing Your Cells' Detoxification/Cleansing Ability by Eating Cruciferous Vegetables.
Spicing Your Cauliflower with Turmeric Could Help Promote Men's Health
Prostate cancer-the second leading cause of cancer death in Americanmen with 500,000 new cases appearing each year-is a rare occurrenceamong men in India, whose low risk is attributed to a diet rich in Brassica family vegetables and the curry spice, turmeric.
Scientists tested turmeric, a concentrated source of thephytonutrient curcumin, along with phenethyl isothiocyanates, aphytonutrient abundant in cruciferous vegetables including cauliflower,cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, kohlrabi and turnips.
When tested singly, both phenethyl isothiocyanate and curcumingreatly retarded the growth of human prostate cancer cells implanted inimmune-deficient laboratory animals. In animals with well-establishedprostate cancer tumors, neither phenethyl isothiocyanate nor curcuminby itself had a protective effect, but when combined, theysignificantly reduced both tumor growth and the ability of the prostatecancer cells to spread (metastasize) in the test animals.
The researchers believe the combination of cruciferousvegetables and curcumin could be an effective therapy not only toprevent prostate cancer, but to inhibit the spread of establishedprostate cancers.Best of all, this combination-cauliflower spiced with turmeric-isabsolutely delicious! The best way to prepare it is to cut cauliflowerflorets in quarters and let them sit for 5-10 minutes; this allows timefor the production of phenethyl isothiocyanates, which form whencruciferous vegetables are cut, but stops when they are heated. Thensprinkle with turmeric, and healthy sautéon medium heat in a few tablespoons of vegetable or chicken broth for 5minutes. Remove from the heat and top with olive oil, sea salt andpepper to taste.
Protection against Rheumatoid Arthritis
While one study suggests that high doses of supplemental vitamin Cmakes osteoarthritis, a type of degenerative arthritis that occurs withaging, worse in laboratory animals, another indicates that vitaminC-rich foods, such as cauliflower, provide humans with protectionagainst inflammatory polyarthritis, a form of rheumatoid arthritisinvolving two or more joints.
The findings, presented in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseaseswere drawn from a study of more than 20,000 subjects who kept dietdiaries and were arthritis-free when the study began, and focused onsubjects who developed inflammatory polyarthritis and similar subjectswho remained arthritis-free during the follow-up period.Subjects who consumed the lowest amounts of vitamin C-rich foods weremore than three times more likely to develop arthritis than those whoconsumed the highest amounts.
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