New research links the cabbage-family plants to a reduced risk for cancer and for treatment.

Lauren Wicks

Once again, mom knew best when telling you to eat your veggies-especially those scary green ones. A new study out of the Cancer Research Institute at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a research affiliate of Harvard Medical School, discovered broccoli-along with cabbage, Brussels sprouts, turnips and the rest of the cruciferous clan-may be able to help ward off tumor growth.

Broccoli and the gang are thought to possess a cancer-fighting compound that fights off the enzymes responsible for tumor growth. The study's authors sought to test this theory by administering this ingredient to cancer-prone lab animals and analyze its effects. The ingredient, referred to as I3C, did indeed inactivate the enzyme that causes tumor growth, and the authors of this study believe their findings pave the way to use it in cancer treatments. To learn more, check out this article from The Harvard Gazette.

Related: 6 Cancer-Fighting Foods to Add to Your Diet

While these findings are pretty exciting, there is a caveat-to get a similar effect, you would have to consume roughly six pounds of brussels sprouts. They are currently working on more practical uses for these findings, as this study was conducted in part by co-founders of a pharmaceutical company, Rekindle Pharmaceuticals, which is currently developing novel cancer therapies. Consuming the necessary amount of I3C in pill form rather than almost 33 servings of brussels sprouts at once seems much more reasonable!

The bottom line: While no one can (or really should) try to eat that many vegetables at a time, we could all benefit from ramping up our intake of these nutritional powerhouses. Cruciferous vegetables are full of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that fight off inflammation other chronic diseases.

If you're looking for inspiration, try our amazing Cauliflower Steaks with Parmesan Cauliflower Rice and Romesco or one of Our Best-Ever Broccoli Recipes. If you're not a cruciferous veggie fan, try sneaking a handful or two of chopped kale into your morning smoothie.

Related: 9 Foods for Breast Cancer Prevention

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