Our parents screaming “Eat your Broccoli!” is a familiar phrase most of us grew up with.
Recent scientific studies have shown that cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and cauliflower, holds the potential to provide a way of reducing the risk of cancer, to help the body fight against disease, and much more. These benefits are mostly due to a highly promising phytochemical found in these vegetables known as Sulforaphane - an organic isothiocyanate. We take a closer look at this compound and how it benefits us.
What Is Sulforaphane?
Sulforaphane is a natural compound that is found in a selected number of vegetables. The only vegetables that contain this compound are those that are classified as cruciferous veggies. A few examples would include cauliflower, kale, cabbage, and broccoli.
This is a compound that is rich in sulfur. It should be noted that Sulforaphane is found in an inactive form in cruciferous vegetables. There is an enzyme known as Myrosinase that activate Sulforaphane when it comes into contact with compounds found in broccoli and other cruciferous veggies. The enzyme is released when the cruciferous vegetable is damaged, which is why chopping these veggies and chewing them is important.
The Effects Of Sulforaphane On Human Health
A number of scientific studies have been conducted in order to provide more evidence on how Sulforaphane compounds affect the human body. In this section, we examine some of these studies to bring you more details on why it is important to ensure intake of cruciferous vegetables as a part of your daily diet.
One of the most important potential benefits yielded by the Sulforaphane compounds is its ability to fight against cancer potentially. One study explains that the consumption of broccoli and related vegetables leads to the production of isothiocyanate sulforaphane in the body. In turn, this compound has a similar effect on cancer cells as chemotherapy drugs, with a particular focus on vorinostat. The compound has the ability to inhibit the activity of histone deacetylase. Another study showed that Sulforaphane might inhibit the growth of cancerous stem cells in patients with breast cancer.
The potential anti-cancer properties of Sulforaphane are not all that has been noted in scientific studies. Many research papers explain that this compound also holds anti-inflammatory properties. In one study, scientists explain that Sulforaphane is able to reduce inflammation affecting the arteries and heart, leading to improved heart health and reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
A scientific paper published in the Journal of Science Translational Medicine found that the consumption of broccoli, which causes activation of Sulforaphane in the human body, could also potentially benefit diabetic patients. It was found that the blood glucose control of patients with existing type 2 diabetes was improved significantly when broccoli was consumed over a two-week period. Additionally, the production of glucose in the liver was also reduced among the individuals who consumed the broccoli. The benefits were all attributed to the sulforaphane activity in the body.
Some of the other benefits of Sulforaphane include better spatial working memory and short term memory (from research in mice). It increases neurite outgrowth - a process by which damaged neurons and synapses repair themselves traumatic brain injury, and has also been shown to significantly reduce memory impairment.
Sulforaphane found in broccoli sprouts is at levels 50 to 100-times that found in mature broccoli and it activates a special genetic pathway in our cells known as Nrf2. Blending them in a blender is a great option as it opens up the plant cell walls, causing the mixing of glucoraphanin in the plant with the myrosinase enzyme.
Should you consider organic Broccoli?
Organic produce is the always the best option but in a few of us, our body’s detoxing ability is impaired because of certain genes - namely GSTP1. If you have certain variants of this gene you should consider growing you own broccoli sprouts or buying organic cruciferous vegetable produce as you will might have a lower capability to excrete toxins like pesticides and herbicides from your system. You can find out your detox risk using Gini.