Maybe you’ve seen these pale but spicy sprouts popping up at your local grocery store. Whether you’ve given them a try or not, this post is dedicated to explaining why you should care about broccoli sprouts, and how many you should eat.
The entire Brassica family, also known as cruciferous, is one of the most renowned health foods from health practitioners and gurus from nearly all backgrounds. It includes broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, watercress, wasabi, kale, kohlrabi, and collards. Doctors, grandmother’s, and health researchers all agree that eating your broccoli is important to your health. Not to mention they have been studied in cancers across the board including bladder, breast, prostate, lung, and ovarian.
Recently, scientists have discovered much more about the phytonutrient sulforaphane that unites them. Through their research, they have also found that broccoli sprouts are the most concentrated source of sulforaphane, having 100 times the amount in mature broccoli.
This means that with broccoli sprouts, you can get a therapeutic dose of phytonutrients in a whole food form from eating 1-2 cups per day! It would take tens to hundreds of cups of other cruciferous vegetables to reach this dose.
So what is so great about sulforaphane?
It controls your genes!!!
Sulforaphane is the most powerful activator of a genetic pathway that regulates over 200 genes! These genes are largely responsible for directing detoxification pathways and as a result up regulates the activation of antioxidant genes, deactivates inflammatory genes, deactivates carcinogen’s and increases their excretion, and reduces cellular aging and damage by decreasing the oxidative burden of reactive oxygen species. 1
These genetic changes work together to powerfully change the health of our cellular environment! Read on for specific pathways and systems that are impacted by the potent phytochemicals in these nutritional gems.
Sulforophane has been shown to cross the blood brain barrier where it has potent anti-inflammatory effects, which support mood and cognition, and can reduce cerebral edema.2
Positive effects of sulforophane have been documented on cancers of the prostate, breast, and ovaries. A 2010 study showed that sulforaphane targets breast cancer stem cells and down-regulates cancer cell renewal. 3 Sulforaphane has been shown in clinical trials to slow the growth of prostate cancer. 4
Cruciferous vegetables contain another molecule, indole-3-carbinol, which is an important compound that helps deactivate potent estrogens that promote tumor growth, and are an important intervention for all estrogen sensitive cancers.
Detoxification plays an important role in all degenerative conditions, including all cancers. Sulforaphane approaches detoxification at the genetic level. It increases production of glutathione, which is the most powerful, free radical scavenging antioxidant made in the human body. It also increases clearance of harmful substances we encounter, by genetically up regulating phase 2 of liver detoxification, which is where toxic substances are neutralized and excreted from the body. 5
How Many Should I Eat?
1 cup of broccoli sprouts contains about 30mg of sulforaphane. The sulforaphane is created when the sprouts are masticated so it is important to chew them well, blend, or juice.
Try these recipes and experiment on your own with adding 1-2 cups of broccoli sprouts into your diet.
Broccoli Mint Chiller
1 cup organic broccoli sprouts
½ cup organic mint
1/3 cup organic blueberries (optional)
1 cup coconut milk
1 tbsp MCT oil
2 tbsp freshly ground flax
1 scoop grass-fed whey protein
1 tbsp grass-fed gelatin protein
2 cups organic broccoli sprouts
2 cups organic purple cabbage
½ cup Primal Kitchen mayo (made with avocado oil)
1 tbsp raw apple cider vinegar
1 tsp organic yellow mustard
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp organic gluten free garlic powder
Mix vinegar, mayo, mustard, and spices in a small bowl. Toss dressing with cabbage and broccoli sprouts in a large bowl. For best flavor, allow slaw to marinate in the fridge for 1 hour or longer.
1. Yang L, Palliyaguru DL, Kensler TW. Frugal Chemoprevention: Targeting Nrf2 with Foods Rich in Sulforaphane. Seminars in oncology. 2016;43(1):146-153. doi:10.1053/j.seminoncol.2015.09.013.
2. Andrea Tarozzi, Cristina Angeloni, Marco Malaguti, Fabiana Morroni, Silvana Hrelia, and Patrizia Hrelia, “Sulforaphane as a Potential Protective Phytochemical against Neurodegenerative Diseases,” Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, vol. 2013, Article ID 415078, 10 pages, 2013. doi:10.1155/2013/415078
3. Li Y, Zhang T, Korkaya H, et al. Sulforaphane, a Dietary Component of Broccoli/Broccoli Sprouts, Inhibits Breast Cancer Stem Cells. Clinical cancer research : an official journal of the American Association for Cancer Research. 2010;16(9):2580-2590. doi:10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-09-2937.
4. Alumkal JJ, Slottke R, Schwartzman J, et al. A phase II study of sulforaphane-rich broccoli sprout extracts in men with recurrent prostate cancer. Investigational new drugs. 2015;33(2):480-489. doi:10.1007/s10637-014-0189-z.
5. Yoshida K, Ushida Y, Ishijima T, et al. Broccoli sprout extract induces detoxification-related gene expression and attenuates acute liver injury. World Journal of Gastroenterology : WJG. 2015;21(35):10091-10103. doi:10.3748/wjg.v21.i35.10091.