Just about everyone knows about the health benefits of broccoli. All vegetables wish they could be like broccoli. When it comes to cancer prevention, broccoli has no rival. This is because it contains a bunch of different nutrients with anti-carcinogenic effects, like diindolylmethane, glucoraphanin, indole-3-carbinol, and various carotenoids.
With all these health benefits, you may be wondering how it is even possible that an even more powerful form of broccoli exists.
Yet, according to this study, Broccoli sprouts: An exceptionally rich source of inducers of enzymes that protect against chemical carcinogens by Jed W. Fahey, Yuesheng Zhang, and Paul Talalay from http://www.pnas.org:
Large quantities of inducers of enzymes that protect against carcinogens can be delivered in the diet by small quantities of young crucifer sprouts (e.g., 3-day-old broccoli sprouts) that contain as much inducer activity as 10–100 times larger quantities of mature vegetables. Moreover, the inducer activity arises primarily from glucoraphanin (the glucosinolate of sulforaphane) and such sprouts contain relatively low quantities of indole glucosinolates, which are potential tumor promoters. Because little is known of the metabolism of glucosinolates in humans, we have undertaken studies (to be published separately) that demonstrate efficient conversion of glucosinolates to isothiocyanates in humans in the absence of plant myrosinase.
So if you really want to do all you can to prevent cancer, go for the broccoli sprouts. There’s nothing wrong with mature broccoli, it’s just that the sprouts are a more concentrated source of the anti-cancer chemicals. And try not to cook them too much, eat them raw if you can. Heating can destroy some of these amazing natural chemicals.
One of the best ways to incorporate more vegetables into your diet is to go wild. Wild vegetables are not only free but are as nutritious if not more nutritious than store bought vegetables. Foraging for food also makes hiking a lot more fun.
The wild vegetable pictured above is called Garlic Mustard(Alliaria petiolata), since it is a type of mustard with a garlicy kind of taste to it. Since it is a member of the totally awesome brassicaceae family(sometimes called the “cruciferous”, “mustard”, or “cabbage” family), it is closely related to kale, cabbage, and broccoli and likely has similar health benefits. Like other members of the cruciferous vegetable group, its small flowers are in the shape of a cross, which is why they are called cruciferous. Cruciferous vegetables are well-known for their naturally occurring anti-cancer chemicals. It’s like getting free cabbage!
The leaves of Garlic Mustard, also known as Jack-by-the-hedge, are triangular to heart-shaped and 10cm to 15 cm long. The entire plant generally grows to 30cm to 100 cm. It grows in moist soil in woodlands, on the edges of woodlands, in fields, and especially in or near floodplains. It often grows near skunk cabbage and jewelweed, though usually on slightly higher ground. Garlic Mustard is common throughout eastern North America. Since it is an invasive species from Eurasia, you can harvest it without guilt.
Like its cousins broccoli and kale, it is loaded with health-promoting phyto-chemicals and minerals. If you want to harvest some, make sure you do it in an area far away from busy highways and also make sure there were never any toxic waste dumps nearby.
I grabbed about half a bag’s worth of the mustard from the woods near me, brought it home and washed a small portion of it thoroughly in the sink. I boiled it very briefly and mixed it with marinara sauce. It sure does shrink from cooking! It was so delicious with the spaghetti and soy protein(TVP). It really adds a lot of taste and nutrition. You can also use it as a salad green. I highly recommend it!
Posted in health, New York, nutrition, trails/outdoors, vegan
Tagged broccoli, cabbage, cooking wild vegetables, cruciferous, cruciferous vegetables, cruciferous vegetables and cancer, edible wild plants, foraging, foraging for food, foraging in New York, garlic mustard, green leafy vegetables, healthiest vegetables, invasive species, Jack-by-the-hedge, phytochemicals cabbage family, vegetables in the forest, vegetables that prevent cancer, wild broccoli, wild cabbage, wild foods, wild greens, wild mustard, wild vegetables