When it comes to protein, it is commonly thought that red meat or other animal products are necessary to get adequate amounts in the diet. But the truth is, all natural foods have protein and some more than others. The ones with larger amounts of protein include green leafy vegetables and particularly those vegetables in the cruciferous family. Cruciferous vegetables are all members of the cabbage family of vegetables. They all contain phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals, and fiber that are important to your health (although some have more than others.) Examples of cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, collard greens, and bok choy.
In addition to providing a good source of protein, these vegetables help with digestive health and to avoid certain major diseases. A new study in the journal, Nature Immunology, found that the protein in green leafy vegetables helps build up the lymphoid cells that line the entire digestive system and make up much of the body’s immune response. This increases lymphatic flow which works to protect the immune system.
As a result, proteins in green leafy vegetables can help keep bad bacteria out of the intestine while working to control or prevent conditions like bowel cancer, food allergy and inflammatory disease. They do this by reducing the oxidative stress in the gut that could generate an overload of harmful molecules called oxygen-free radicals that bring on diseases such as colon, lung, prostate, breast, and other cancers. Another study funded by the National Cancer Institute, found that eating 1 to 2 cups of cruciferous vegetables a day for three weeks resulted in a 22% drop in oxidative stress in the digestive track.
So now more than ever you have good reason to increase how many dark green leafy vegetables and cruciferous vegetables you eat each day. Get your protein, increase benefits to your digestive system, and work on reducing disease in the body at the same time.