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Functional Food Highlight: Cruciferous Vegetables

by Tanya Kwiez |

Cruciferous vegetables are a diverse group that includes arugula, Bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, collards, kale, radishes, and watercress. The name originates from the Latin word cruciferae which means “cross bearing,” because the four petals of the blossom resemble a cross.

The Cruciferous vegetable family consists of various sizes, shapes, and colours but they are similar as they share many nutritional benefits. Primarily cruciferous vegetables have high levels of vitamins and minerals, in particular vitamins B9 and K. 

The cruciferous vegetables that are dark green in colour such as broccoli are a source of vitamins A and C and contain potent plant compounds called phytonutrients that have been studied for their potential abilities to reduce inflammation in the body and even decrease the risk of some cancers (1). 

They contain powerful enzymes

Certain enzymes that are found in cruciferous vegetables may help to protect our cells DNA from damage, and others may exert powerful antioxidant properties. Research has shown that cruciferous vegetables may also help to counteract the cancer-causing compounds called nitrosamines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons that are found in meat or fish when it has been barbecued or charred when cooked (2, 3). 


They contain metabolites that may help fight cancer 

There are some unique plant metabolites that are well known for their cancer prevention properties. Two particularly well studied bioactive compounds found in cruciferous vegetables are glucosinolates and sulfurophane (3). 

These plant compounds have been specifically focused on in various research for their cancer-preventive activities. Several studies suggest that a diet rich in cruciferous vegetables may lower rates of many cancers, including breast, bladder, pancreatic, colon, lung, and prostate cancer (4, 5). When ingested glucosinolates can be further broken down to form Isothiocyanates and indoles. It is these chemical compounds that scientists believe are the reason for the reduced risk of lung, breast, cervical and colon cancer associated with high intakes of cruciferous vegetables. 

Research suggests that sulforaphane may play a major role in preventing prostate and colon cancer. Sulforaphane is found in particularly high levels in broccoli, broccoli sprouts, Bok choy and Brussels sprouts (5). 


Activated Nutrients specialised superfood blends Top Up Women’s Multivitamin and Top Up 50+ contain cruciferous vegetables. The nutrient-rich wholefoods deliver plant-derived vitamins, phytonutrients and antioxidants alongside enzymes, prebiotic fibres and probiotics to support vitality and energy. The ingredients are certified organic and are grown and processed without the use of synthetic chemicals or fertilisers. The unique, expertly formulated powders are also free from genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and irradiation.



1. Abdull Razis, A. F., & Noor, N. M, (2013). Cruciferous Vegetables: Dietary Phytochemicals for Cancer Prevention. Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention. Asian Pacific Organization for Cancer Prevention. 
2. Steinkellner, HR et al, (2001). Effects of cruciferous vegetables and their constituents on drug metabolizing enzymes involved in the bioactivation of DNA-reactive dietary carcinogens. Mutation research. 480-481. 
3. Amron NA & Konsue N, (2018). Antioxidant capacity and nitrosation inhibition of cruciferous vegetable extracts, International Food Research Journal 25;1: 65-73.

4. Veeranki OL et al, (2015). “Cruciferous vegetables, isothiocyanates, and prevention of bladder cancer.” Current pharmacology reports; 1,4: 272-282. 
5. Linus Pauling Institute, 2022. Cruciferous Vegetables, accessed 11/2/2022, available at: