There are anti-cancer substances in cruciferous vegetables that may actually keep us from getting cancer. We are exposed to carcinogens all the time, and we should assume that cancer cells have formed in our bodies. But, cancer starts as a single cell, which has to split into 2, then 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, etc. and that takes times. It has to be become millions of cells before it is going to impact anything.

So, early on, you don’t know that you have it. You feel nothing. And likewise, if it gets nipped in the bud by your immune system, then you never knew you had it. Who knows how many times we have been through that, and I mean all of us.

Substances in cruciferous vegetables help your immune system to destroy cancer cells in your body. For instance, there is a substance called glucobrassicin that turns into another substance called indole-3-carbinol, which is a cancer fighter. But, what turns it into I3C is an enzyme called myrosinase, and cruciferous vegetables have that too. So, you chomp down on the vegetable, which breaks it up, and the glucobrassicin gets mixed with myroinsinase, and wallah, you’ve got I3C. It reminds of how you have to mix the two tubes of epoxy glue. Two I3C moles can join to form another substance that is also bioactive against cancer, the abbreviation for it is DIM.

Then, there is another substance called glucoraphanin which turns into sulforaphane, which also fights cancer. Glucobrassicin and glucoraphanin together are known as glucosinolates.

I don’t know if it’s correct to call these things nutrients because, to my mind, a nutrient is something that you absolutely need and will suffer without. But, they didn’t even know about them until quite recently. And after knowing about it, it’s not like they are adding it to baby formula. And yet, babies grow fine without it. And who knows how many people have gone their whole lives without eating cruciferous vegetables. Remember George HW Bush who said he wouldn’t eat broccoli?

So, it may be better to think of glucosinlates as naturally-occurring anti-cancer drugs that don’t have any adverse effects.

But, the problem is that without myrosinase, you don’t get to I3C and DIM. And it so happens that myrosinase is very heat-sensitive, so if you cook the vegetable, myrosinase breaks down, and you don’t get the crucial reaction that makes the conversions.

So that means, you have to eat the vegetable raw. However, raw broccoli has never appealed to me. I find it to be gritty. And it stays gritty even after I'm thorough chewing it, and I don't like that. It just doesn’t disintegrate and dissolve the way I expect foods to do. 

So, I don't cotton to eating raw broccoli every day. For me, that would be like taking medicine.

However, it’s a different situation with red cabbage. Red cabbage gets chewed up nicely. It starts out crunchy, but not gritty, and it dissolves nicely. I can have a very good and satisfying eating experience eating raw red cabbage. The trick is to cut it up as finely as possible.

But, what about green cabbage? That’s another option, but not surprisingly, red cabbage has more glucosinolates than green cabbage. And it may be because green cabbage is “etiolated.” That’s the word Shelton used. It forms such a tight head that blocks the sunlight, so it’s very white inside. But red cabbage is not etiolated. It is red throughout.

But, there is another reason why I prefer red to green, and that is, that green cabbage does not taste good with lettuce, and that’s what we’re talking about with green salad, where lettuce is the main leafy vegetable in the salad. It’s not customary to add green cabbage to lettuce-based salads, and that’s because it doesn’t taste good.

So, there’s green salad, and there is cole slaw, and never the two shall meet.

However, the red cabbage blends nicely with lettuces. Those two flavors are complementary. So, you can add some shredded red cabbage to your green salad every day and never get tired of it. It’s actually very pleasant. 

So, that’s what I’m doing, and you might say that I am making a point of doing it.

And to reinforce it, here is a research article that substantiates that red cabbage has about the same amount of glucosinolates as broccoli. And note that it says that organic growing causes there to be more. 

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00217-007-0674-0

Now, how best to shred the cabbage? I just do it with a large sharp kitchen knife, and I mean the kind you would cut a watermelon with. What I do is cut the head of red cabbage into four quarters, and then I cut out the white stalk, which you don’t want. And then I just start slicing slivers, as thin as possible, until I’ve gone through the whole quarter. Naturally, you need to be careful. You need to make sure that your other hand is far away from the blade. And when it gets close at the end, you can either discard the last bit into the compost bin, or otherwise, put both hands on top of the knife, at that point, and just chop what remains.

But, let’s face it: we know that eating cruciferous vegetables is one of the most important nutritional acts that we can take.  And we know now that there is a distinct advantage to eating them raw. And I think that this is probably about the most enjoyable way to do it. At least, it works for me. So, it's in my game plan.