Thursday, 29 August 2013

Cruciferous and Goitrogenic

This is one of my favourite times of the year, when my Father's allotment is overflowing with great vegetables that he needs to give away, as he can't possibly eat them all.  So that's where I come in - he gets more visits from me this time of year!
And as I am constantly telling clients to each more vegetables, especially the cruciferous variety to help with detoxifying, I like to come up with new ways of cooking them.
Cruciferous vegetables include cabbage, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower, and all are rich in vitamins, minerals, fibre and disease-fighting phytochemicals.  There is even research that links cruciferous vegetables to a lower risk of cancer, as well as a reduction in oxidative stress.
But as with everything in life, there is a catch.  If you have any thyroid issues, some of these vegetables may not be doing you as much good as you thought, unless cooked in the right way.
Certain foods contain goitrogens, which are compounds that make it more difficult for the thyroid gland to produce thyroid hormones.  For people with a healthy thyroid this is not an issue as the thyroid gland compensates and just makes more, but in those people whose thyroid function is compromised the thyroid gland may grow more cells and eventually a swelling in the neck, known as a goiter, may occur.  Cruciferous vegetables along with soy, strawberries, peanuts and peaches are known to have this effect.
But all is not lost - these wonderful foods do not need to be avoided totally, just cooked in a gently way to change their phytochemical structure and eliminate the goitrogenic effect.
This cabbage recipe is similar to one I have done before on the blog, but to me it is one of the tastiest ways to eat cabbage - coconut oil, spices and the addition of beans for protein - a perfect vegetarian light lunch.

Heat coconut oil with cumin seeds and mustard seeds until they begin to 'pop'.
Add sliced onion and cook for 3-4 minutes before stirring in 1/2 tsp turmeric and cooking for another minute.
Stir in shredded cabbage, drained canned beans and a sprinkling of desiccated coconut and toss well to coat with the spices.
Pour in 2-3 tbsp water and cover to steam the cabbage gently for 5-6 minutes.
Season to taste and serve.

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