British Journal of Nutrition

Research Article

Development of a food composition database for the estimation of dietary intakes of glucosinolates, the biologically active constituents of cruciferous vegetables

S. A. McNaughtona1 c1 and G. C. Marksa1

a1 Nutrition Program, School of Population Health, University of Queensland, Herston, Queensland, 4029, Australia


Evidence indicates that cruciferous vegetables are protective against a range of cancers with glucosinolates and their breakdown products considered the biologically active constituents. To date, epidemiological studies have not investigated the intakes of these constituents due to a lack of food composition databases. The aim of the present study was to develop a database for the glucosinolate content of cruciferous vegetables that can be used to quantify dietary exposure for use in epidemiological studies of diet–disease relationships. Published food composition data sources for the glucosinolate content of cruciferous vegetables were identified and assessed for data quality using established criteria. Adequate data for the total glucosinolate content were available from eighteen published studies providing 140 estimates for forty-two items. The highest glucosinolate values were for cress (389 mg/100 g) while the lowest values were for Pe-tsai chinese cabbage (20 mg/100 g). There is considerable variation in the values reported for the same vegetable by different studies, with a median difference between the minimum and maximum values of 5·8-fold. Limited analysis of cooked cruciferous vegetables has been conducted; however, the available data show that average losses during cooking are approximately 36 %. This is the first attempt to collate the available literature on the glucosinolate content of cruciferous vegetables. These data will allow quantification of intakes of the glucosinolates, which can be used in epidemiological studies to investigate the role of cruciferous vegetables in cancer aetiology and prevention.

(Received April 19 2002)

(Revised March 21 2003)

(Accepted April 22 2003)


c1 *Corresponding author: Ms S. A. McNaughton, present address MRC Human Nutrition Research, Elsie Widdowson Laboratory, Fulbourn Road, Cambridge CB1 9NL, UK, fax +44 1223 437515, email