Thursday, May 28, 2015

Super Cruciferous Mighty Green Soup + What are ITCs?


Are you ready for a little food chemistry 101? I hope so, because this topic is pretty interesting! Cruciferous vegetables are the nutritional powerhouses of the plant kingdom. Most of us are aware of the health benefits of some of these veggies, such as kale, broccoli, collards, etc. They are true superfoods, with anti-cancer properties. For a complete list of cruciferous vegetables click here, compliments of Dr. Fuhrman.

We should all strive to eat some cruciferous vegetables every day as natural protection against cancer. Many studies have proven their health-promoting and cancer-protective qualities. One study showed that eating only one serving per day of cruciferous vegetables reduced the risk of breast cancer by over 50%![1]

Cruciferous vegetables have in them something called glucosinolates, which are sugar-based molecules that contain sulfur and nitrogen. They also have an important enzyme, called myrosinase. Why is myrosinase important? Because without it, the anti-cancer compounds that are so prevalent in the cruciferous vegetables would not work at all! A chemical reaction occurs when the myrosinase comes into contact with glucosinolates, producing isothiocyanates (ITCs) – powerful anti-cancer compounds. ITCs have been proven to detoxify and remove carcinogens, kill cancer cells, and prevent tumors from growing[2]. But the myrosinase and the glucosinolates only cross paths if you either chew the veggies really well, chop, or blend them prior to cooking.

Your mother was right when she told you to chew your food well, for more than one reason! Chewing well helps the enzymes in your saliva start to break down your food even before it reaches your stomach. And, as you now know, when you're eating cruciferous vegetables, it's even more important.

That takes us to today's delicious soup recipe… it's just packed with nutrients! This is probably the healthiest dish I've ever prepared. And it is so easy, you won't believe it. And—happy me—the most important part of the process is the easiest part… blending. All of the veggies are blended before cooking, so it's quick and easy, plus you're getting a super-high dose of cancer-preventing veggies. Bon app├ętit!

Ingredients:
  • 4 cups broccoli florets
  • 2 cups rough chopped kale
  • 2 cups rough chopped collard greens
  • 1 large leek, cleaned, trimmed and rough chopped
  • ½ cup fresh parsley 
  • 1 cup raw cashews*
  • 2 pitted dates
  • 3 TBS salt-free seasoning (I used Spike)
  • 2 TBS nutritional yeast
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups pure water or vegetable stock
*NOTE: for a low fat version of this recipe, substitute the cashews with one can of unsalted, white beans, such as great northern, navy or Cannellini beans.

Directions:
  1. If using cashews, place them and enough water to cover in a blender and blend until smooth. Then add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. If using beans, simply blend all ingredients until smooth. You will need a large blender for this, or you can just blend it in two batches.
  2. Transfer to a soup pot and simmer on low until just hot.
  3. Serve topped with some chopped parsley and ground black pepper.


Serves 4 as a main dish. Enjoy!

Healthy, cruciferous trails,










References:
  1. Zhang CX, Ho SC, Chen YM, et al. Greater vegetable and fruit intake is associated with a lower risk of breast cancer among Chinese women. Int J Cancer 2009;125:181-188.
  2. Higdon J, Delage B, Williams D, et al. Cruciferous vegetables and human cancer risk: epidemiologic evidence and mechanistic basis. Pharmacol Res 2007;55:224-236.
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