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More good reasons to eat your veggies! New research has suggested that cruciferous vegetables reduce inflammation by significantly reducting pro-inflammatory markers.

Cruciferous vegetables include: cabbage, broccoli, bok choi, brussel sprouts, kale, and cauliflower. Cruciferous vegetables are different from other fruit and vegetables because they contain a high level of isothiocyanates and indoles. Previous studies have assessed the benefits of cruciferous vegetables in cancer prevention, however, there have not been many studies assessing the anti-inflammatory role of cruciferous vegetables. There is scientific evidence from animal studies that demonstrate a reduction in inflammation.

A recent study has assessed the levels of markers of inflammation and oxidative stress and their association with consumption of cruciferous vegetables. The study included 1 005 Chinese women, derived from the Shanghai Women’s Health Study. A comparison of cruciferous vegetable intake versus intake of other fruit and non-cruciferous vegetables was carried out.

Evaluation of the participants’ diet revealed that the daily intake of cruciferous vegetables among the women ranged from 48.9g to 138.1g. There was no association found between cruciferous vegetable intake and factors such as age, BMI, smoking, use of vitamins, or NSAID use.

The study found that women who ate more cruciferous vegetables had reduced amounts of pro-inflammatory markers in their blood, including: TNF-a, IL-1B, and IL-6. These results did not change when taking into account other factors such as: BMI, inflammatory disease, NSAID use, vitamin supplement use, consumption of other fruit and vegetables, or total energy intake. This effect appeared to be specific for cruciferous vegetables and was not seen when assessing intake of either non cruciferous vegetables, or fruit. While the results did show differences in pro-inflammatory markers, there were no significant differences found with markers of oxidative stress with cruciferous vegetable intake. The authors state, however, that due to specific design of the study, there cannot be a causal inference made between cruciferous vegetable intake and reduction of pro-inflammatory molecules. The authors also suggest that future research should aim to investigate the specific components of cruciferous vegetables that may be involved in the reduction of inflammatory markers.



Jiang, Y, Wu, S-H, Shu, X-O, Xiang, Y-B, Ji, B-T, Milne, GL, Cai, Q, Zhang, X, Gao, Y-T, Zheng, W, Yang, G. “Cruciferous Vegetable Intake Is Inversely Correlated with Circulating Levels of Proinflammatory Markers in Women” Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Volume 114, Issue 5, May 2014, Pages 700–708.e2

Image courtesy of James Barker at





Written by Deborah Marrocc-Tallarigo, PhD

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