Foods that fight colon cancer

Broccoli and other four-petaled flower vegetables would one day help stave off colon cancer.

When my boys were little we called broccoli ‘trees’ in order to entice them to eat these green cruciferous vegetables. We weren’t aware at the time, but broccoli and other four-petaled flower vegetables would one day help them stave off colon cancer.

Broccoli is probably the best known of the cruciferous vegetables. Others are Brussels sprouts, rapini, green cabbage, cauliflower and white turnips. There are “headless crucifers” that include dark green leafy vegetables such as kale and collard greens.

What makes these vegetables beneficial?

Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, red cabbage, radishes and rapini are all excellent sources of folate, vitamin B, potassium, fiber, magnesium and beta-carotene. Nearly all are excellent or good sources of vitamin C, and some are good sources of manganese. Dark greens are high in vitamin K.

Tips for the grocery store:

  • Choose compact, firm heads that are heavy for their size with no soft spots and no unpleasant odor.
  • Green leaves should be fresh with no yellowing.
  • Turnips are sweetest when small.

Tips for storing:

  • Wait to wash until just before use.
  • Refrigerate in an unsealed plastic bag. Broccoli, cauliflower and turnips will stay fresh up to five days; others up to a week.

Tips for preparing:

  • Steam, microwave, stir-fry or sauté to retain nutrients. Boiling cruciferous vegetables can cut nutrient content in half.
  • Cook just until tender-crisp and still bright green. Overcooking makes the vegetables smelly and unattractive.
  • Many cruciferous vegetables are also delicious roasted or baked, especially turnips, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower.
  • Many are delicious raw. If the flavor is too strong to enjoy raw, steam the veggies or blanch them briefly in boiling water, then cool quickly in ice water and serve cold.
  • Try broccoli sprouts on salads or in sandwiches.

Try this recipe: California citrus and greens salad with garlic dressing


4 large cloves fresh garlic, peeled
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1/3 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a blender, combine first five dressing ingredients. Puree until smooth. Add thyme, salt and pepper.


1 quart boiling water
1 cup small broccoli florets
1 bag (8 ounces) prewashed baby salad greens
1 navel orange, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
1 cup chopped red bell pepper

Add broccoli to boiling water and blanch for 1 minute. Drain well and let cool. In a serving bowl, toss broccoli with the remaining ingredients. Add dressing and toss again. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings. Per serving: 155 calories, 8 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 20 g carbohydrates, 4 g protein, 3 g dietary fiber, 99 mg sodium

Source: American Institute for Cancer Research


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