Cruciferous Veggies … Super Foods!

The nutrition/wellness and horticulture team at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach continue the quickinar videos with a look at some cruciferous vegetables

June 17, 2020, 8:42 am | Ruth Litchfield, Sarah Francis, Cynthia Haynes

cruciferous vegetables.AMES, Iowa – In recent years, a number of the cruciferous vegetables, including cauliflower, have been hailed as "super foods." These vegetables have risen in popularity because of the phytonutrients they contain. Phytonutrients are plant-based compounds that may help lower inflammation and reduce the risk of cancer.

Cruciferous vegetables are a diverse group that includes arugula, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, radish and turnips.  Each of these plants provides a strong, unique flavor.  Many of these vegetables come from the Brassica (also known as Cruciferae) family. 

This week’s Sow, Grow, Eat and Keep webinar from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach highlights these versatile and delicious vegetables.

Did you know all these vegetables originated from a common ancestor, the wild cabbage (Brassica oleracea)? Over thousands of years, farmers, gardeners and breeders have selected different variations from this single species for larger leaves, terminal buds, flowers and lateral buds to create the cultivars of cabbage, kale, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussel sprouts and more that we grow today.   

Despite the variety of colors, shapes and sizes, these vegetables share similar nutritional benefits. Most cruciferous veggies are rich in vitamins and minerals such as folate and vitamin K. Dark green cruciferous veggies also are an excellent source of vitamins A and C. In addition, cruciferous vegetables are rich in fiber and low in calories, a combination that will help you feel full and satisfied without overeating.

As you contemplate how to reach the recommended 2½ cups of vegetables per day, don’t forget about the cruciferous vegetables. They aren’t just a steamed side dish anymore. Take for example, cauliflower. Try roasting florets or “steaks” of cauliflower to release its pleasant flavor. When pureed, it’s a great substitute to cream sauce. Other creative cauliflower options? Mash into a pizza crust, grate into a substitute for rice or pickle for a low-calorie, salty, crunchy snack.

For those interested in learning more about gardening, contact your Iowa State University Extension and Outreach county office for information about the Master Gardener program. Training begins across the state this fall. 

ISU Extension and Outreach will be hosting weekly Sow, Grow, Eat and Keep quickinars. These quickinars will be 5-15 minute online lessons of seasonally appropriate topics for the garden, food preparation and food preservation. Some of the upcoming topics include:

  • Pollinators
  • Berries
  • Herbs
  • Sweet corn
  • Tomatoes
  • Produce food safety
  • Canning produce

For additional resources and publications referred to in this news release, visit Send your food or garden questions to

Original Photo: Cruciferous vegetables cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and kale

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