Cruciferous Vegetables

cruciferous vegetables
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God 1 Corinthians 1:18 (NIV)

It’s a funny thing how some things stick in one’s mind and other things can’t be recalled. One of the things I remember from standard eight (grade ten) at Hyde Park High School was the girl in our English class, a top academic, who, during a period of public reading, pronounced vegetable with a long ‘e’ sound after ‘veg’ and before ‘table’. The class roared with laughter and she turned beet red with embarrassment while the teacher corrected her pronunciation. This same girl, by the way, would faint, not just at the sight of blood, but even when someone mentioned it. She was also extremely skinny and, which just goes to show how dense I sometimes was in my teenage years, it took me two years to realise she struggled with bulimia nervosa.

Eating, particularly the right foods, is important. Perhaps it was because of my mother’s cooking (which majored on good things like cabbage, carrots, and potatoes) or maybe it’s because of a genetic disposition, I love vegetables … all of them. In fact, one of my favourite lunches is a fresh salad with fish and when it comes to supper and a second helping, it’s the vegetables that I’m after.

Interestingly, there’s a category of vegetables known as cruciferous vegetables. The more popularly known cruciferous vegetables are broccoli, brussels sprout, kale, horseradish, cabbage, mustard greens, cauliflower, rutabaga, watercress, collard greens, radish, kohlrabi, bok choy and turnips. Now I’ve always wondered why these vegetables were called cruciferous and when I finally researched the matter I discovered that the root of the word is the Latin crux which means “cross” and that one definition for cruciferous is “bearing a cross.” The idea that these vegetables “bear a cross” comes from the fact that the family of plants from which these vegetables come, have flowers with four petals arranged like the arms of a cross.

My mother used to say to me, “Eat your vegetables if you want to be healthy.” Cruciferous vegetables are high in vitamin C and soluble fibre and contain multiple nutrients, elements like selenium, and glucosinolate substances like diindolylmethane or DIM and sulforaphane which have potent anti-cancer properties. Laboratory studies reveal that cruciferous vegetables uniquely help to regulate a complex system of bodily enzymes that defend against cancer and that the medicinal use of drugs made from selenium, DIM and sulforaphane will stop the growth of cancerous tumours of the breast, lung, liver, colon and cervix.

My mother still tells my step-father to eat his vegetables. Like mother, like son … I’m also going to tell you to eat your vegetables, especially your cruciferous vegetables, because the cross, while being a symbol of spiritual nourishment, is possibly a symbol of physical nourishment as well.

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