Cruciferous Vegetables: How to use them to help balance hormones
Cruciferous veggies are nutrient powerhouses! Those of you that have been in recently have most probably heard me speak about the “Brassica”s a lot, trying to sneak them in to staple recipes (Cauliflower mash on a Shepherds pie; Broccolo and Almond soup, etc) to support hormone clearance. The Brassicas are a family of vegetables that include broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, bok choy, rocket, brussel sprouts, kale, collards, watercress, turnips, kohlrabi and horseradish. These vegetables are particularly powerful thanks to their glucosinolate content, which gives them their
delicious peppery and slightly bitter taste. When glucosinolates are broken down through chewing, chopping, blending and digestion, an enzyme called mironase is activated that converts the glucosinolates to indole-3-carbinol. It is indole-3-carbinol that gives cruciferous vegetables their punchy hormone regulatory effect.
How does indol-3-carbinol impact hormone levels?
The liver plays an important role in manufacturing and clearing hormones in the body. When the liver is not functioning optimally – rather than being cleared out, hormones can recirculate through the body and lead to hormonal excesses and imbalances. It is therefore essential that when a client is experiencing symptoms of hormonal imbalances such as acne, PMS, menorrhagia, menstrual disorders, low energy, weight-gain etc. that we restore optimal liver functioning.
This is where cruciferous vegetables and its powerful constituent indol-3-carbinol come into play. Indole-3-carbinol supports the liver’s detoxification process through stimulating the enzymes required to remove toxins and hormones from the body. Indole-3-carbinol has been shown to selectively bind to oestrogen receptors, which has a regulatory effect on oestrogen levels in the body. This regulatory ‘balancing’ effect is therefore beneficial in both individuals with low and high oestrogen.
How to use cruciferous vegetables therapeutically
It is important to first determine whether your symptoms are due hormonal imbalances and if hormonal clearance and liver support is necessary. Speak to your health care provider to determine if this is you.
For mild cases of hormonal imbalance, aim to eat 1-2 cups of cruciferous vegetables daily, lightly cooked to reap it’s full benefits.
· Warm chicken and rocket salad with blanched asparagus
· Asian stir-fry with cabbage and broccoli
· Roasted Brussel sprouts tossed in garlic, lemon and olive oil
· Sourdough toast with smashed avocado and sauerkraut
· Slow cooked pork with a shredded cabbage slaw
· Broccolini frittata with a side of sauerkraut.
For more severe or longstanding conditions, supplementation may be necessary. Again, this is best determined by your nutritionist or naturopath so be sure to run it past them first.
A word of warning…
If you suffer from an underactive thyroid then be sure to slightly cook your cruciferous vegetables. These veggies contain goitrogens, which is a natural compound that inhibits the body’s ability to use iodine, an essential element required for the formation of thyroid hormones. Lightly cooking cruciferous vegetables will significantly reduce the
levels of goitrogens.
A Brassica a day can certainly do wonders to keep the Doctor away 😉
Tabitha & Madeleine