The Incredible Benefits Of Broccoli Sprouts
We all know that eating vegetables is a healthy choice and provide profound benefits to the body however there is one vegetable that shines had and shoulder above the rest; broccoli sprouts. Unfortunately, numerous studies indicate that only one in ten of us actually achieves the recommended daily intake of approximately 800 grams a day of a mixture of fruits and vegetables.
Whilst all types of vegetables are going to be beneficial, there is one group that scientists believe contribute significantly to overall health due to their unique nutrition content – the Brassica family; commonly known as cruciferous vegetables. These include broccoli, Brussel sprouts, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, radish and turnips.
Aside from their nutritional content, scientists have found a compound that makes these vegetables so important called Sulforaphane (also called SFN).
What’s so special about Sulforaphane?
Sulforaphane is one of the most important phytonutrients to have been discovered over the past 30 years and can be obtained from cruciferous vegetables particularly broccoli and kale. It does not exist in any meaningful quantities within these vegetables however it is created from two very specific compounds, myrosinase and glucoraphanin, which are found in different parts of the vegetable. When the vegetable is chopped, blended or chewed, the two compounds react with each other to produce Sulforaphane. It just so happens that cruciferous vegetables contain much higher amounts of these two compounds than other vegetables.
So why not eat broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables?
I am the first person to endorse a varied and healthy diet comprising of fruits and vegetables of all colours in order to provide a wide variety of phytonutrients. However, vegetables undergo a maturation process whereby their biochemistry changes as they grow.
As broccoli seeds begin to germinate, tiny plants called sprouts grow from the seedlings. Broccoli sprouts are 3-4 day old broccoli plants that have a similar appearance to alfalfa sprouts and when eaten taste the same as radishes. This rich green vegetable contains antioxidants, calcium and vitamin C, making Broccoli sprouts a good addition to any diet.
Sprouts in the open soil grow fast as they are normally vulnerable to attack by birds and insects. Broccoli sprouts, like most other sprouts, are extremely rich in nutrients and the reason why broccoli sprouts are loaded with nutrients when compared to the adult vegetable is that they contain the whole plant information concentrated into a very tiny shoot.
The glucoraphanin content in broccoli sprouts is on average 50-100 times greater than found in mature broccoli; by weight this means that one single ounce (30 grams) of broccoli sprouts contains as much antioxidant as eating three pounds (over a kilo) of fully grown broccoli.
Are there any other benefits of eating broccoli sprouts?
Aside from being loaded with vitamins, minerals and protein, broccoli sprouts also contain lots of enzymes which are needed for their growth. The same enzymes are also beneficial to us. Cooked vegetables and foods are devoid of enzymes and so the body has to make enzymes in order to digest foods. Our bodies have to manufacture a host of other enzymes such as enzymes for energy; for nerve function; for brain health and countless other processes. Since broccoli sprouts contains enzymes to digest foods, our bodies can carry on making other essential enzymes.
What are the benefits of Sulforaphane?
Broccoli Sprouts, Kale sprouts and Daikon sprouts contain the highest concentration of the precursors mentioned earlier required to make Sulforaphane. Paul Talalay, an esteemed researcher at John Hopkins, first realised Sulforaphane’s potential in 1992. Since then, there have been over 1700 studies indicating the health benefits of Sulforaphane across a wide variety of diseases and concerns some of which include:
Brain boosting – Sulforaphane is really good for the brain. It is considered a nootropic meaning that it protects the brain, enhances brain function and is without side effects. Other studies indicate that it increases nerve growth which means that it can repair damage caused to the nerves whether due to injury or ageing.
Numerous studies have shown Sulforaphane’s ability to improve autistic behaviour scores. Improvements were shown in social interaction and verbal communication.
Cell mutation – this field has had the maximum amount of studies. We know that eating the Brassica vegetables may help to protect against a variety of diseases associated with cell mutation. Sulforaphane seems to have the ability to protect healthy cells, target mutated cells, prohibit cell mutation possibly due to its potent antioxidant properties whilst encouraging the growth of healthy cells.
Heart health – Cardiovascular problems are one of the biggest concerns in the world including high blood pressure often arising as a result of ageing blood vessels and the loss of elasticity of the valves within the blood vessels. Sulforaphane’s powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory mechanisms may explain why studies show its heart protective effects.
Potent antioxidant activator – although Sulforaphane itself displays powerful antioxidant properties, one of its biggest benefits is its ability to activate antioxidant production within the body including glutathione and other antioxidants that protect the body against a wide variety of diseases.
Detoxification – our bodies are exposed to thousands of chemicals from airborne pollutants to chemicals from the products we use and foods we eat. Sulforaphane in broccoli sprouts has a detoxifying action that is thought to be directly associated with Sulforaphane’s ability to act both as a direct and indirect antioxidant and several studies have shown its ability to remove toxins including heavy metals from the body.
Boosting liver function – Sulforaphane supports the liver through two mechanisms; firstly by neutralising free radicals that cause damage and secondly by activating enzymes that help in the removal of toxins including alcohol from the liver.
There are many other health benefits associated with Sulforaphane from broccoli sprouts including its ability to maintain healthy blood sugar levels, pain relief, mood elevation and inhibiting Helicobacter pylori from flourishing. The good news is that Sulforaphane from broccoli sprouts display no long term side effects.
Where can I find broccoli sprouts?
Although sprouting broccoli seeds at home may seem easy, there are many things that can adversely affect the quality and quantity of sprouts. You need to get a good balance between warmth, damp and light without causing fungi to grow.
Broccoli sprouts are not that easy to find in health stores and in supermarkets because tests have revealed that many of these may contain unsafe levels of E. coli and salmonella. There are some very good broccoli sprouts supplements rich in sulforaphane.
Jarrow Formulas BroccoMax® is a totally natural and convenient way of getting your daily dose of Sulforaphane from broccoli sprouts. BroccoMax deliver high levels of Sulforaphane precursors including Sulforaphane Glucosinolate (SGS) and the enzyme Myrosinase from sprouted broccoli seeds.
The actives derived from sprouted broccoli seeds provide multiple health benefits discussed above including influencing genes that govern cell function by turning up the ones whose expression is positive to health and turning down those that are detrimental to cell function.