Veggies You Need To Support Your Gut Health
Written by: Kavata Kithome
Recently, gut health has become something of an obsession in the health and wellness community – and for good reason!
Digestive problems can be a big bummer, so much so that they can make it quite difficult to feel healthy at all when you are experiencing digestive distress of any kind. Poor digestive health can cause worry, affect your ability to enjoy your food and – worse – can keep you from being your most fantastic self.
Being a health coach, I am a big advocate for good digestion, specifically gut health. I believe a healthy gut equals a healthy, happy you.
For this reason, I am always looking for ways to not only promote and maintain my own digestive/gut health, but also help my clients do the same. This is where my love for cruciferous veggies elevated from 100 to 100,000. It is because these veggies (also known as brassicas and or cole crops) are credited with everything from potential cancer-fighting properties to detoxifying benefits and more.
Most of us know that broccoli and cabbage are rockstar cruciferous veggies, but which other veggies aside from these qualify?
I would like to break down my top 10 cruciferous vegetables – the veggies that I know are delicious and easy to add to your daily routine and pack the biggest nutritional punches.
I didn’t begin eating broccoli until I moved to the states. I remember thinking they looked like baby trees the first time I saw them. It took me a long time to like the taste, but broccoli is a powerhouse of nutrition.
- Good fiber content for digestive support and cholesterol-lowering benefits
- Anti-inflammatory, pro-detox and antioxidant benefits for fighting cancer
- B-complex vitamins linked to cardiovascular health
- Break into florets, slice stems and either:
- Steam until just slightly cooked (about 2 minutes) and dress with sea salt + lemon or puree with bone broth for soup
- Serve raw with a favorite dressing, hummus or dip
- Use in stir-fries or other sautéed dishes
In my opinion, cauliflower is often underrated, but this veggie is no slouch!
- Contains detoxifying phytonutrients, antioxidant benefits from vitamin C and manganese, which can lower chronic stress and risk of cancer
- Excellent source of anti-inflammatory vitamin K
- High fiber content for digestive support
- Process, stir fry with aromatics, tamari – for fried ‘rice’
- Sauté florets with coconut oil, turmeric
- Roast florets with olive oil, salt
I have to admit, I have a love hate relationship with arugula. But it makes my top favorites because it is dense with nutrients.
- Cancer-fighting properties from phytochemicals
- Contains vitamins A, B6, C, K, thiamin, riboflavin and niacin, which help with everything from bone formation, neurological health and detoxification
- Metabolism-controlling minerals such as copper and iron
- Serve raw in salads, over grains, with meat and fish
- Dress minimally, with olive oil, lemon or balsamic vinegar, sea salt, fresh pepper
4. Bok Choy
Aside from its fun name, bok choy is delicious. I love it because its taste is light enough to throw in a smoothie or juice and also pair with other things.
- Contains omega-3s for brain function and anti-inflammatory properties
- High levels of vitamin K, a fat-soluble vitamin known for bone health and lowering inflammation
- Zinc, which helps to regulate hormones
- Antioxidant support from vitamins A and C and flavonoids
- Cut heads in half lengthwise and sauté in a small amount of olive oil for 5 minutes or less – season as desired.
- Slice, serve raw in salad or slightly cooked in stir-fries or other sautéed dishes
5. Brussels Sprouts
I am sure that you have read about my journey with Brussels sprouts in my recent article. Yet Brussels sprouts make this list because they are nutritional powerhouses.
- Fiber content contributes to digestive support and cholesterol-lowering benefits
- High in detoxifying and cancer-fighting glucosinolates phytonutrients
- Elements in sprouts linked to improved DNA stability
- Remove stems and any discolored outer leaves, then either:
- Slice in half lengthwise and pan sear, cut-side down, for a few minutes until brown. Season lightly
- Steam whole and drizzle with olive oil and lemon or tamari
- Slice and roast or keep raw for salads
6. Collard Greens
Are you surprised to find out that collard greens are cruciferous? Those that know me know I love collard greens and now there are even more reasons to love them!
- Best of the cruciferous for cholesterol-lowering benefits by how they can bind bile in digestive tract, making it easier to exit the body
- Cancer-fighting glucosinolates support detox and anti-inflammatory systems
- Steam for just a minute or two and use as a lunch wrap
- Slice and sauté with chili flakes and serve with black eyed peas
- Slice very thinly, marinate in lemon and toss in salads
I know you are already eating kale, but here are few more reasons to keep eating kale.
- B-vitamin folate is key for brain development
- Fiber and protein content manage hunger and satiate
- Lutein and zeaxanthin, nutrients protect against macular degeneration
- Slice and sauté with olive oil and garlic
- Bake with coconut oil and sea salt for chips
- Slice very thinly, marinate in lemon and toss in salads
8. Mustard Greens
My relationship with mustard greens began recently, they are my go-to when I am not able to get kale or collard greens, here is why!
- High-fiber for gut health
- Vitamin K for bone development and limiting neuronal brain damage
- Indoles may inhibit cancer cell growth
- Braise with broth and vinegar
- Sauté with olive oil, chili flakes and lemon
- Blend with garlic, basil, olive oil and parmesan for pesto
If you have been eating radishes, if only in your salad, you have been gifting your body with amazing nutrition. Think of radishes as the marshmallows in your hot chocolate, they just make everything better.
- This detoxifying diuretic increases urine production
- High levels of vitamin C and anthocyanins may inhibit cancer cell growth
- B and C vitamins, zinc, phosphorus and high water content benefit skin health and appearance
- Cut in quarters and serve with herbed yogurt and sea salt
- Slice thin and toss in salads
- Pickle in apple cider vinegar, salt and dill
Every time I think of turnips, I think of Michelle Obama’s turnip video. I can’t help it! But the former first lady was onto something, this veggie is chock full of goodness.
- B vitamins help promote healthy liver, skin, eyes and hair
- Calcium for bone, muscle and nervous system health
- Indoles inhibit cancer cell growth
- Sauté sliced turnips with garlic, greens and a squeeze of lemon
- Turnip mash: simmer in milk, mash and top with chives
I believe that digestive health is key to having great overall health. These veggies above are a great place to start if you are in the market of reclaiming great digestive health.
Did any of these cruciferous veggies surprise you? We would love to hear from you, leave us a note in the comments below.
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Kavata Kithome is an advocate for living your best life, full of health and longevity. While working closely with gym owners and personal trainers, she was able to sculpt a well-rounded view of fitness and understands how to incorporate it with a healthy balanced diet. She is a regular contributor to the One More Step Lifestyle brand.
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