About Broccoli Sprout
What are Broccoli Sprouts?
Broccoli sprouts are three-to-four-day-old broccoli plants. They contain 20 to 50 times higher amounts of Sulforaphane than mature broccoli.
These include broccoli, green and red cabbage, and kale, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, bokchoy, turnips, swedes and even radish, cress, rocket and horseradish.
Cruciferous vegetables contain fibres, folates, carotenoids (including beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin), selenium and a high amount of vitamin C. Broccoli is also rich in vitamins K and B9.
Cruciferous vegetables are recognised for providing some benefits in the face of risks of cancer and of risks of cardio-vascular disease.
What is Sulforaphane?
The short answer:
Sulforaphane (SFN for short) is a potent cancer-fighting and antibacterial compound found in cruciferous vegetables and sprouts.
The long-ish answer:
Sulforaphane is created when the enzyme myrosinase transforms the glucosinolate glucoraphanin into sulforaphane. Since myrosinase and glucoraphanin are found in different parts of the plant, this change happens when the plant is damaged (by chewing, blending, chopping, etc.) allowing the two compounds to mix and react. Young sprouts of broccoli and cauliflower are particularly good sources of glucoraphanin.
More specifically, sulforaphane is part of a group of plant-based disease-fighting phytochemicals called isothiocyanates. In the body, sulforaphane stimulates the production of important enzymes that neutralize free radicals. Since inflammation and free radicals get the blame for many types of cancer, this is a big deal. Isothiocyanates also seem to block certain cancer-activating enzymes in the body, creating a double protection.
This is why sulforaphane is well studied for its ability to:
- help protect against various types of cancer (including colon, prostate, breast, skin, lung, stomach, and more)
- reduce risk of neurodegenerative disease, ocular disease, respiratory problems, heart disease, and other problems, also likely due to the free radical reducing effects
- support the brain and digestive system.
Which Foods Contain Sulforaphane?
Sulforaphane is found in cruciferous vegetables including broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, collards, kale, bok choy, kohlrabi, turnip, collards, arugula, watercress, radish, and mustard greens. Broccoli sprouts have the highest identified concentration of sulforaphane.
All green veggies serve an important purpose and you’ll have a hard time finding any doctor or health expert who would say eating green veggies is not a good idea (short of very specific health conditions).
In fact, there are few things that all dietary experts seem to agree on, bu the importance of eating veggies is one of them (along with sleep and reducing stress). Cruciferous vegetables have many health-promoting properties, and sulforaphane is yet another reason why!
To just say that broccoli sprouts contain sulforaphane is an over simplification (though I will stick to that for the rest of the post for the sake of simplicity). More accurately, Brassica vegetables contain myrosinase, which helps break down glucosinolates like glucoraphanin into usable forms of isothiocyanates including sulforaphane.
Both myrosinase and glucoraphanin are present in cruciferous veggies and especially in broccoli sprouts. When we chew, chop or blend raw sprouts, they combine and create sulforaphane. In other words, broccoli sprouts contain the compounds needed to create sulforaphane.