Petfood manufacturers are in a constant bid to find the best formula: the healthiest, the tastiest, the most convenient.
Cruciferous vegetables are the vegetables of the Brassicaceae family, a family of dicotyledonous angiosperms made up of a monophyletic group with 372 genera and 4,060 accepted species. The best known and most consumed are cauliflower, kale, cabbage, watercress, broccoli and Brussels cabbage, among others.
Vegetables in the cruciferous family are known as ‘super vegetables’: they contain vitamins, fibres and phytochemicals that help the human immune system fight disease. In fact, it is recommended for human consumption several times a week.
Everything that is imposed on humans is imposed, sooner rather than later, in the lifestyle of pets, and this trend is no exception: the consumption of vegetables and the replacement of animal meat is on the rise.
Benefits of cruciferous vegetables for pets
The answer is yes: the vegetables in this family are healthy, safe and nutritious to include in pet food formulas.
Broccoli, for example, is packed with fibre, which helps with digestion and weight control; It contains many vitamins (A, B, C, D, E and K) that help promote the general well-being of the animal and lutein, a nutrient that promotes eye and cardiovascular health.
- Cabbage, for its part, is the one with the highest amount of vitamin A
- Brussels sprouts and broccoli contain high levels of folic acid and omega-3s
- Brussels sprouts have the highest amount of vitamin A, C, K and B complex vitamins
- Kale is high in fibre, vitamin K and E, iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, and antioxidants
Benefits of incorporating cruciferous vegetables into petfood formula
- Prevention of oxidative stress: thanks to the antioxidants in these vegetables, oxidative stress in pets can be reduced or prevented, which occurs when there is an imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants in the animal’s body. Free radicals are unstable molecules with an odd number of electrons. They are a natural ‘by-product’ of the daily processes of the body’s functioning, although they are also caused by environmental toxins such as pollution and smoke. To try to stabilise, free radicals interact with other molecules, which can damage proteins, DNA, and other cells
- Carotenoid intake: carotenoids are plant pigments rich in antioxidants that protect dogs from free radicals. Kale, for example, contains three main carotenoids: lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene, a provitamin A carotenoid, that is, it converts into vitamin A upon entering a dog’s body, and benefits the skin, coat, and endings muscular and nervous. Lutein and zeaxanthin are beneficial to the health of the retina of the eye, and related research claims that they help prevent age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts, and diabetic retinopathy, among other conditions
- Studies show that lutein and zeaxanthin improve cardiovascular health. Lutein and zeaxanthin also help increase levels of glutathione; an antioxidant produced in canine cells that is involved in detoxifying the liver. In fact, low glutathione can cause up to 45 percent of liver disease in dogs. This antioxidant participates in various processes, such as stress, aging, and protection against environmental toxins, and cannot be easily replaced
- Intake of flavonoids: like carotenoids, flavonoids are plant pigments found in fruits and vegetables. They are powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, with the two most common being quercetin and kaempferol. Quercetin is known for its ability to fight allergies because it is also an antihistamine. For its part, kaempferol helps reduce inflammation, improves cardiovascular health, protects the brain, and controls diabetes. Both flavonoids also protect against cancer
Vegetables are once again making their way into petfood. In this case, we can affirm that the incorporation of cruciferous vegetables into petfood formulae for dogs is positive; However, certain precautions must be taken, such as, for example, that the vegetables are grown in organic soils or that they do not exceed 10 percent of what the animal’s diet will be.
It will be crucial to deepen the research and tests in our sector of the industry to be able to include the right measure of these vegetables with total safety in the petfood formulae that are committed to healthy, nourished animals and at the forefront of what their human owners seek.