Above: courtesy of Pixabay

Cruciferous vegetables are a group of vegetables known for their bitter taste and often pungent aroma. When cooked the right way, they can add lots of flavor and hardiness to your meals. Arugula, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, radishes and turnips are some of the foods included in the cruciferous vegetable family.

Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, especially cruciferous vegetables, is known to reduce your risk of developing heart disease or experiencing a cardiovascular event, such as stroke or heart attack.

Certain types of phytochemicals, called glucosinolates, are likely to blame for this benefit. These phytochemicals are unique to the cruciferous vegetable group and are thought to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which are great for heart health. In addition to keeping your heart healthy, cruciferous vegetables may also help prevent prostate, lung, bladder and colorectal cancers.

On top of their heart disease-fighting and cancer-preventing phytochemicals, cruciferous vegetables are also packed with nutrients like vitamins C, E and K, carotenoids, folate and fiber—no wonder many of them are considered “super foods.”

Carotenoids, which give them their vibrant colors, act as antioxidants. Fiber helps lower the bad cholesterol, further helping to fight heart disease, and keeps your digestive system running smoothly.

You can start eating for a healthier heart now, as many of the cruciferous vegetables are in-season during the winter months. Eating in-season is a great idea because the produce is more likely to be local, fresher and less expensive.

If you haven’t enjoyed the taste of cruciferous vegetables in the past, try these tips to bring out the best flavors and reduce bitterness.

  • Add lemon juice in salad dressings.
  • Add salt-free seasonings to enhance flavors.
  • Avoid over-cooking; try lightly steaming or eating them raw.
  • Toss them in olive oil and roast them in the oven.
  • Use stainless steel pans instead of aluminum.

This article was written with the help of UGA Extension Fulton County’s dietetic intern, Taylor Dixon

Photo by Jennifer Schmidt on Unsplash

Recipe: Kale and Cauliflower Salad

Try this recipe full of cruciferous vegetables for a heart-healthy salad.


Roasted Cauliflower:

1 lb. cauliflower florets

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1/8 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. pepper


¼ cup lemon juice

3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

½ tsp. salt

1 bunch kale, stems removed, torn or chopped into bite-sized pieces

¼ small red onion, thinly sliced

1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

1/3 cup no-sugar-added dried cranberries

1/3 cup chopped almonds


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. On a baking sheet, toss the cauliflower florets with olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread out into an even layer and roast in the oven for 25 minutes or until tender.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the lemon juice, olive oil and salt into a dressing. Toss the kale with the dressing.
  3. Add the cooked cauliflower, onion, feta cheese, dried cranberries and chopped almonds to the kale. Toss.
  4. Enjoy!

Recipe from goodhousekeeping.com/food-recipes/easy/a42424/kale-roasted-cauliflower-salad-recipe/ and modified by UGA Extension Fulton County.