Get Creative With Cruciferous Vegetables

Fall Produce You'll Love

Bacon and brussel sprouts
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Pumpkin may be the gourd of the season, but there are other fall produce superstars that are climbing the ranks fast. I’m talking cruciferous veggies—think arugula, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, turnip, radish, and cabbage, to name a few.

Nearly all cruciferous vegetables are a great source of vitamin C, E, and K, as well as folate and minerals like potassium and calcium. They’re rich in fiber, which is an important nutrient for weight loss and maintenance because it keeps you feeling full and helps control hunger. Cruciferous veggies also contain a lot of water, which helps keep you hydrated and contributes to beautiful skin and hair.

Including a variety of hearty picks in your daily menu will give you a nutrient boost that may help protect you from cancer (due to their high value of glucosinolates, sulfur-containing compounds known for their anti-cancer properties). Studies show that the glucosinolates in cruciferous veggies help reduce inflammation and reduce the risk for developing cancer.

Despite the sulfur aroma they release during cooking (ahem!), cruciferous veggies are an exciting addition to the dinner table. The health benefits and flavor profiles are unique to each. And when it comes to cruciferous vegetables, you can eat as much as you want­­—that’s how good they are for you!


Arugula’s peppery leaves are chock full of nutrients, including beta-carotene, vitamin C, folate, vitamin K, magnesium, and fiber, that enable the body’s cardiovascular, nervous, and digestive systems to function at their optimal levels. And with arugula taking over the salad scene, it’s a crowd-pleaser on any menu.

Bok Choy

A relative of cabbage, bok choy has been around for centuries in Chinese cuisine. Both the dark green leaves and white stalks of this calcium-rich vegetable are edible. With only 9 calories per cup, bok choy is one of my new veggie faves. It’s great for braising, stir fries, and soups… or you can eat it raw!


I’m so in love with broccoli! Both the stalks and florets are edible and amazing. Broccoli is packed with health-promoting carotenoids and cancer-fighting glucosinolates. Get creative with broccoli and try my yummy kid-friendly recipe for Broccoli Tater Tots

Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts are like mini cabbages, with an abundance of nutrition and flavor wrapped up in each tiny bite. And, while all methods of cooking these mighty greens can help to lower cholesterol levels, steaming seems to be the most beneficial. That’s because steaming helps break down the fibrous parts of the sprouts the most. The fibrous pieces then bind to stomach acids that would typically boost cholesterol, and instead, help to usher them out of the body. Not to mention, one cup of Brussels sprouts contains just 55 calories and provides four grams of filling fiber. Try them steamed or roasted (use oil spray and season with a dash of salt and pepper); they’re totally delicious.


Cabbage is one of my superhero veggies because it’s ultra low in calories and packed with potent phytonutrients that may provide cancer protection. Three popular varieties are typically available: pale green, purple-red, and crinkle-textured savoy. Use it to whip up a delicious coleslaw or to replace noodles in soup and stew, like my Braised Sausage and Cabbage.

Mustard Greens

Mustard greens are the peppery leafy greens of the mustard plant and are often used in Southern cooking, as well as Indian, Chinese, Japanese, and African cuisines. They’re less bitter than kale, and are wonderful when lightly wilted, blanched, or sautéed with a spritz of olive oil spray, some fresh garlic, and a dash of salt and pepper.


Don’t be afraid of this pungent yet sweet root vegetable. Radishes are full of fiber, making them very filling. That means they’ll satisfy your hunger without running up your calorie count. They are a very good dietary option for people trying to lose or maintain their weight. Radishes are natural detoxifiers and are loaded with anthocyanin flavonoids that protect against cancer and cardiovascular disease. Enjoy them raw for a crispy, crunchy addition to salads, to fancy up avocado toast, roasted, or added to soups and stews.


Both the greens (the leafy greens of the turnip plant are also edible) and root of the turnip are brimming with nutrients. They’re rich in potassium, vitamin C, fiber, and cancer fighting glucosinolates. With only 36 calories per cup, they’re the perfect swap for potatoes in recipes and you can use the greens in place of spinach.

Joy Bauer, MS, RDN, CDN, is the health and nutrition expert for NBC’s Today Show and founder of Nourish Snacks.

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Article Sources
  • Keck AS, Finley JW. Cruciferous vegetables: cancer protective mechanisms of glucosinolate hydrolysis products and selenium. Integr Cancer Ther. 2004 Mar;3(1):5-12.