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Phytonutrients

Glucosinolates

Glucosinolates are found in cruciferous vegetables, including:

  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Kale
  • Broccoli

They give these vegetables their sharp odor and flavor. The glucosinolates turn into other chemicals during the cooking process and while you digest these foods. These chemicals may help hold in check the development and growth of cancer.

Phytoestrogens

Phytoestrogens can behave in the body like the hormone estrogen. They can also block the effects of your natural supply of estrogen.

Soy foods contain isoflavones -- a type of phytoestrogen. Some evidence suggests that soy foods may be linked to:

Your body converts lignans, another type of phytonutrient, into chemicals with some estrogen-like effects. Two especially good sources of lignans are:

  • Flaxseeds
  • Sesame seeds

However, research supporting a role for lignans in preventing endometrial cancer or osteoporosis is limited.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Kimball Johnson, MD on October 29, 2012

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