Why You Should Be Eating Broccoli Sprouts
Within cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts) is an enzyme (myrosinase) that helps to create a compound; that compound is sulforaphane1. Sulforaphane has been a hot topic in science news lately. It’s definitely what I would think of as a super food and should be a part of your daily diet.
While mature cruciferous vegetables have myrosinase and another precursor, glucoraphanin, and create sulforaphane when the plant tissue is broken (cut, blended, etc) there is a larger concentration in broccoli sprouts2-3. In fact, broccoli sprouts have a concentration 50-100x higher of glucoraphanin than mature broccoli. Another point to make, is that the enzyme myrosinase becomes inactive in the cooking of cruciferous vegetables1-2. This means that the cooked broccoli is not containing much, if any, sulforaphane because the glucoraphanin cannot be converted. You can add mustard seed to your cooked cruciferous vegetables to provide a supplemental source of myrosinase, but raw broccoli sprouts are still a much better option. You can freeze broccoli sprouts and the amount of sulforaphane can actually double!3
So what’s so good about sulforaphane?
Benefits of Sulforaphane:
1. A regular serving of broccoli sprouts daily can protect against Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori)1
a. This bacteria is known to cause gastritis, ulcers, and stomach cancer
b. A research team at Johns Hopkins studied this effect by providing a daily 2.5 ounce serving of broccoli sprouts to participants and levels of the H. pylori marker dropped
2. Cancer Prevention and/or treatment3-4
a. Sulforaphane shows promise in being a useful substance when it comes to certain cancers including bone cancer, breast cancer, glioma, melanoma, and prostate cancer
b. Sulforaphane leads to a process called apoptosis in cancer cells. Apoptosis is programmed cell death. There is also a suppression of cancer cell growth
3. Increase excretion of harmful substances
a. Carcinogens are removed from the body at a higher rate with the ingestion of sulforaphane2
b. One specific carcinogen, benzene had an increased excretion rate of 61%5
c. Benzene is found in air pollution and Is a huge issue in smokers3
· SMOKERS – EAT YOUR SPROUTS!
4. Decreases inflammation
a. Inflammation is decreased by deactivating genes associated with inflammation and increasing anti-inflammatory pathways2,5
b. Inflammation markers, such as C-reactive protein and tumor necrosis factor-alpha5
c. Inflammation is one of the most important components of longevity and the aging process
5. Improves autistic behavior6
a. Study from Johns Hopkins and Harvard
b. Ratings from “much improved” to “very much improved” in areas of social interaction and verbal communication in almost half of the participants
c. Over half showed less abnormal behavior
d. Autistic scores increase by 34%3
6. Nootropic effects5
a. Sulforaphane crosses the blood brain barrier in mice
b. In mice, there is an improvement in spatial working memory and short-term memory
7. Minimize depression and positive effect on mood3,7
a. “Inflammation plays a role in the pathophysiology of depression”7
b. As mentioned above, Sulforaphane is able to activate and deactivate certain pathways as to decrease inflammation
c. By reducing this inflammation relapse of depressed patients in remission due to inflammation can be prevented or minimized
d. In a mouse model, a study shows that Sulforaphane can be as effective as Prozac for decreasing depressive symptoms and anxiety5
8. Improves Cardiovascular Markers2-3,5
a. Decreased triglyceride levels
b. Decrease in the amount of oxidized LDL particles “bad cholesterol”
9. Evidence for controlling diabetes2-3
a. 20% decrease in fasting blood glucose
10. Elicits a stress response in the body5
a. This is actually a GOOD thing; there is a gain in resilience which is beneficial
b. Other examples of stress inducing actions are fasting, exercise, heat therapy, cold therapy; all with positive benefits
c. Improves the body’s capacity to be resilient
The Science and Why Sulforaphane Works
Sulforaphane activates the genetic pathway Nrf2 and does so at the highest level of any naturally-occurring dietary compound.5 The Nrf2 pathway controls over 200 different genes affecting anti-inflammatory mechanisms, antioxidants, aging, oxidative stress, and inactivating potentially harmful compounds.3,5 It’s like sulforaphane flips a switch and initiates all of these beneficial processes.
How to Get Sulforaphane
Honestly the easiest way to get sulforaphane is to grow your own broccoli sprouts.
Click the image below to learn how to grow your own!
There are some supplements available on the market but from my research, not of them seem to be up to par with components, required precursors, or dose.
You can buy broccoli sprouts, but they tend to be pretty expensive.
Buying one pound of sprouting seeds (this will last you a LONG time as you only use 2-3 tbsp at a time) and a sprouting jar is less than $35.
It's so important that we take advantage of all of the great things our foods have to offer us!
If you have any questions about sprouts or sulforaphane, be sure to let me know!!
1. Weil A. Better Boost From Broccoli Sprouts?. Drweil.com. https://www.drweil.com/diet-nutrition/nutrition/better-boost-from-broccoli-sprouts/. Published April 10, 2012. Accessed September 18, 2017.
2. Rhonda Patrick’s Master class on Broccoli Sprouts and Sulforaphane. BJJ Caveman. http://bjjcaveman.com/2017/07/17/rhonda-patricks-master-class-broccoli-sprouts-sulforaphane/. Published July 7, 2017. Accessed September 18, 2017.
3. JRE 901 – Dr. Rhonda Patrick. The Joe Rogan Experience. 2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxM_CLsvieE. Accessed September 18, 201.
4. Sahelian R. Sulforaphane supplement health benefit and review of published trials – What is the right dosage, any side effects? Food and diet sources, role in cancer, capsules and tablets. Raysahelian.com. http://www.raysahelian.com/sulforaphane.html. Published September 26, 2017. Accessed September 18, 2017.
5. Ferriss T. Transcript: Dr Rhonda Patrick on Exploring Smart Drugs, Fasting, and Fat Loss. The Tim Ferriss Show. https://tim.blog/2017/05/25/transcript-dr-rhonda-patrick-on-exploring-smart-drugs-fasting-and-fat-loss/. Accessed September 18, 2017.
6. Agi C. Broccoli Sprout Extract May Help Curb Autism Symptoms. ABC News. http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/2014/10/13/broccoli-sprout-extract-may-help-curb-autism-symptoms/. Published October 13, 2014. Accessed September 18, 2017.
7. Study Results from Chiba University Update Understanding of Inflammation (Prophylactic effects of sulforaphane on depression-like behavior and dendritic changes in mice after inflammation). Health Reference Center Academic. go.galegroup.com.ezproxy.emich.edu/ps/i.do?p=HRCA&sw=w&u=lom_emichu&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CA476789852&asid=527ff72ef9f1355ca6f20f4945605ff5. Published January 13, 2017. Accessed September 18, 2017.