When looking for ways to prevent cancer, scientists are looking more and more at what we eat. Research about the role of diet in cancer prevention is booming. Science has shown that some foods may protect against cancer-even in more ways than one! High on this list are a group of vegetables known as crucifers, named for their flowery petals that are shaped like a cross.

Crucifers include cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, many greens such as Chinese cabbage and turnip greens, and more. Cruciferous vegetables are veritable powerhouses of nutrition. They are low in calories, and high in vitamins A and C, fibers, enzymes, calcium and iron.

But how do these vegetables help prevent cancer? Researchers feel their benefit stems from chemical substances that crucifers contain:

  • Indoles and isothiocyanates that seem to stimulate the immune system and help protect against colon, stomach and respiratory cancer
  • Beta carotene, which in its natural form of food (but not in supplements), may suppress the cancer process in cells that are exposed to carcinogens.

The benefits of crucifers don’t stop there. They help with appetite control since their high content of soluble fiber brings on a feeling of fullness that may release appetite-suppressing hormones. Crucifers are also thought to decrease the absorption of fats from other foods eaten at the same meal.

With all this going for them, shouldn’t you choose crucifers? Pick your favorites from the following list. But don’t stop there: be adventurous and try some new ones. Your body will thank you!