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Do You Know Nutrition: What are cruciferous vegetables?

Sept. 13, 2011 at 4:13 a.m.

Phylis Canion

Phylis Canion

By Phylis Canion

I am a cancer survivor and attribute a lot of my success to the cruciferous vegetables that I now eat, as well as other healthier food choices. To all of those struggling with cancer, can you please explain what cruciferous vegetables are and how they benefit someone with cancer?

Cruciferous vegetables, also referred to as Brassica vegetables, are all members of the cabbage family.

Cruciferous vegetables includes broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, watercress, mustard greens, collard greens, rutabaga, kale, kohlrabi, arugula and radishes.

Cruciferous vegetables are packed with phytochemicals, notably, crucifers. Crucifers contain isothiocyantes, which are chemical compounds that work against carcinogens by inhibiting their activity, therefore repairing damage made by them.

Another compound found in cruciferous vegetables is indoles, which help detoxify enzymes and prevent cell damage. There is no single cause of cancer, but factors that are tied to a greater likelihood of developing cancer include a toxic liver, poor digestion and detoxification, a diet high in fat, environmental toxins (i.e. ingesting pesticides, additives, etc.), a weakened immune system, stress, physical inactivity and genetic flaws.

According to the National Cancer Institute, eating habits will affect 90 percent of Americans' health at some point in their lifetime, with approximately 30 percent directly related to developing cancer.

My father started developing symptoms of dementia. After reading several articles on the benefits of coconut oil, I decided to give him one teaspoon in the morning and one in the evening, according to Dr. Mary Newport and the treatment she was using with her husband. His improvement was phenomenal. My concern is the fat content of coconut oil and if I could be doing good with one thing but causing problems with something else.

The benefits of coconut oil abound, as is evident in the Pacific islands, where consumption of approximately 40 percent of their diet is from the saturated fats from coconut oil, and they show non-existent evidence of heart disease or dementia.

The primary reason is because of the coconut's fat content - approximately 50 percent lauric acid, a medium chain triglyceride that converts to monolaurin, that in turn gives coconut it's antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal effects (just try a little on that toe fungus).

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, coconut oil consumption is on the rise. In 2005, 5.9 million metric tons of coconut oil was produced.

In 2011, that number has increased to 6.24 million metric tons produced. Word is out and that is a good thing.

Phylis B. Canion is a doctor of naturopathic medicine and is a certified nutritional consultant, email her at This column is for nutritional information only and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure.



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