As was mentioned in a previous post, broccoli rabe (pronounced rob) is one vegetable that has more aliases than Jennifer Garner. Often referred to as rapini, rappa, Italian turnip, fall and spring rabe, and broccoli de rape, the one thing this vegetable can’t be confused for is broccoli itself!
As a member of the brassica family, broccoli rabe is most closely related to cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, rutabaga and turnips and even has some ties to the mustard family.
Much like its relatives, broccoli rabe is a great source of folate, which is important in fetal development and may also reduce the risk of cancer, especially tumors of the colon, breast, cervix and lung. When combined with vitamins B6 and B12, as is the case in broccoli rabe, folate can also lower the risk of heart disease and stroke. In addition, broccoli rabe touts high levels of vitamin K and magnesium, which is integral for bone development and repair.
With a long narrow, knobby body and a tuft of green leaves, the parsnip could easily be confused for an anemic version of the carrot.
The missing link, if you will, is beta-carotene, the compound responsible for giving carrots their golden hue. But rest assured, parsnips have plenty of nutritional power. For example, the parsnip boasts a high volume of insoluble fiber, which is important for a healthy digestive system as well as for regulating cholesterol and reducing blood sugar fluctuations. It is also a good source of potassium, which helps reduce the risk of kidney stones. The vegetable’s high folic acid content, meanwhile, can help reduce the risk of heart disease, osteoporosis and dementia and, for pregnant women, decrease the likelihood of birth defects. Rounding out parsnip’s nutritional power punch, its high vitamin C content has been associated with improved lung function—and even a reduction in asthma symptoms in children—and also gives skin a healthy glow.
While the effects of Brussels sprouts aren’t likely to win you any friends—unless you’re interested in hanging with the lads at the local fraternity—these cruciferous little devils pack a serious health punch.
Once considered a delicacy in Belgium—and since named Britain’s least favorite food, according to one recent poll—Brussels sprouts are loaded with compounds that disarm cell-damaging free radicals and help detoxify the body. In fact, less than a cup a day of the little critters is thought to reduce the risk of cancer—particularly those affecting the breast, liver, colon and bladder—and reduce the risk of heart disease by as much as 71% in men and 59% in women, according to one recent study. In addition, Brussels sprouts’ off-the-charts vitamin C content—which clocks in at 4 times that of an orange—can help shore up the body’s immune response and give your skin a healthy glow (but not in a freaky Paris Hilton-esque fake-and-bake way!)
Now this is some smart fuel we can live with! Step aside kale, move over broccoli: the best way to ward off a wintry cold is to drink red wine.
You’re not reading that wrong. Not one, but two major studies have just reported evidence that those who drink wine moderately – no more than two glasses a day – have better immunity and resistance to infectious cold viruses than those who do not drink. This benefit is cancelled out if you’re a smoker, however.
Of course, red wine is also healthy because it is rich in resveratrol, a vital antioxidant. To learn Mark’s great and creative ways to enjoy wine more often, read How to Drink More Wine and Eat More Chocolate Every Day.
polifemus Flickr Photo (CC)
Much to the relief of one of our staff, it’s not just for lutefisk anymore. (Although we recently learned that Scandinavians aren’t the only ones who favor odd protein dishes; Icelanders enjoy soured sheep balls and rotten shark. So there.)
Where were we? Oh, yes! Red cabbage. Though it’s popularly sauced, buttered, pickled and soured, red cabbage stands up just fine on its own as a cooked side dish, in a salad or as a salad, shredded up in soups, perched atop your morning eggs, rolled around your favorite turkey slice, or baked into your cheddar frittatas. Red cabbage, in fact, is one of the healthiest foods around. Being that it’s a member of the brassica family, it’s a cruciferous vegetable. These cancer-fighters (broccoli, cabbage, kale, and Brussels sprouts are all part of the gang) are powerful, but red cabbage is special. Why? Just look at all that beautiful, dark color! Hello, antioxidants!
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