Cauliflower is just one of the many cruciferous vegetables that may be able to treat cancer, according to a study coming from Rutgers University.
Cauliflower contains glucosinolates and thiocyanates — both sulfur-containing phytonutrients that cleanse the body of damaging free radicals. It also contains a substance called sulforaphane (SFN), a compound known to inhibit the occurrence of some cancers in rats caused by carcinogens, primarily colon cancer.
In the Rutger’s research, it was found once again that diet does matter in cancer prevention:
“Our research has substantiated the connection between diet and cancer prevention, and it is now clear that the expression of cancer-related genes can be influenced by chemopreventive compounds in the things we eat,” said Kong, a professor of pharmaceutics in the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.
Even the American Cancer Society admits that more than two thirds of cancers can be prevented with lifestyle modification, and this includes diet. In this particular study, mice fed a diet high in sulforaphane, the substance naturally occurring in cauliflower and broccoli, enjoyed fewer cancerous tumors, polyps, and smaller tumors in the their colons. After three weeks, the mice fed sulforaphane had a 25% decline in tumors and those given double the dose had a 47% decrease in cancerous tumors.
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The results are obvious, “Our results showed that SFN produced its cancer preventive effects in the mice by inducing apoptosis (programmed cell death) and inhibiting proliferation of the tumors; however, it was not clear what mechanism SFN employs to accomplish this,” Kong said.
Just how vegetables like cauliflower (and other cruciferous vegetables) help to kill cancer cells is still unknown, but Kong’s team found that SFN suppressed certain enzymes or kinases that are highly expressed both in the mice and in patients with colon cancer. The researchers concluded that this enzymatic suppression activity is the likely basis for the chemopreventive effects of SFN.
Along with cauliflower’s high levels of SFN, it is also a powerful antioxidant with high levels of vitamin C and vitamin A, also known as cancer inhibitors. Researchers also believe that if you consume cauliflower and turmeric spice together, you can prevent or eradicate prostate cancer totally. The scientists, once again from Rutger’s, tested turmeric and it’s active compound known as curcumin along with phenethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC), a naturally occurring substance in certain vegetables such as watercress, cabbage, winter cress, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, cauliflower, kohlrabi and turnips. They found cancer-preventative qualities in the duo.
There are many varieties of cauliflower that you can enjoy to help prevent colon and other cancers. You can find orange, green and purple varieties along with the more commonly known white. Cauliflower doesn’t need to be relegated to the vegetable tray at parties either, there are hundreds of delicious recipes here.