Life Member of Food Writers New Zealand Award: Lea is honoured to receive a Life Member of Food Writers New Zealand Award in recognition of her work as an author and nutritionist in the realm of food communications. Read more »



Diet therapy

Brace yourself for the brassicas

With Winter now upon us its time to eat more Brassica vegetables.

What are they?

  • Broccoli – 7th most popular vegetable in New Zealand
  • Cauliflower – 13th most popular
  • Cabbage (all types) – 12th most popular
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Broccolini – consumption rocketing!
  • Swedes
  • Turnips

Why are they so good?

Brassicas contain:

  • Antioxidants, from the following groups: Carotenoids, phenolics, Vitamin C, Vitamin 3. Help us to fight free radicals causing tissue aging and damage, improve immunity and have a protective role in a variety of diseases
  • Sulphur compounds found in brassicas have a strong “indirect” antioxidant role and help battle cancer.
  • Iron and Folate are particularly high in green leafy vegetables. These nutrients are important to us during times of rapid growth. They also have both been linked to improved memory and concentration.
  • Carotenoids such as lutein and zeaxanthin are yellow-orange carotenoids that protect our eyes and are may also inhibit cancer.
  • Dietary Fibre, like all vegetables, Brassicas are a good source of soluble fibre important for bowel health, cholesterol lowering and blood sugar control.
  • D-glucaric acid is found in Brassicas particularly broccoli. Studies indicate that D-glucaric acid may help to detoxify a number of carcinogens.
  • and are low in kilocalories/kilojoules like all vegetables the Brassicas are low in energy yet bulky and filling that is great news for the weight conscious.


  1. If the sulphur in Brassicas gives you wind or flatulence try tilting the lid of the saucepan or lifting a corner of the clingfilm covering vegetables you microwave. This allows the sulphur compounds that are volatile to evapourate.
  2. To encourage children to eat brassicas, blanch cauliflower and broccoli flowerettes and serve with salsa or guacamole dips. Try mashing swede and/or turnip with more familiar vegetables such as potato or carrot. Offer coleslaw made with green/ red cabbage its great all year round!

About the author View all

Lea Stening

Lea is one of New Zealand’s leading paediatric dietitians and also specialises in Sports Nutrition. She has specialised in Paediatric Nutrition for 31 years and in 1985 was the first paediatric dietitian to enter private practice in New Zealand. Lea helps families through her private consultations, public lectures, newspaper and magazine articles as well as television and radio interviews. Read more »

View all posts by Lea Stening »


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