What is sulforaphane?
Sulforaphane is an antioxidant compound that is produced when we eat leafy green vegetables. Broccoli, cabbage, kale, and other brassicas are great sources of sulforaphane, with sprouted broccoli seeds being particularly abundant in this nutrient powerhouse. Brassicas contain the precursor, glucoraphanin along with the enzyme myrosinase. Chopping and chewing this combination activates the conversion into sulforaphane providing an impressive set of health benefits.
Why is sulforaphane so good for you?
There is substantial research showing the wide ranging benefits of sulforaphane in your diet. Some of the key areas of health impacted by sulforaphane include:
- Better heart health - studies have shown that sulforaphane lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties (1)
- Anti-cancer effect - studies have shown sulforaphane lowers cancer risk, inhibits growth and development of specific cancers and has the “capacity to be selectively toxic to malignant cells” (2)
- Neuroprotective benefits - evidence suggests sulforaphane may play important role in preventing neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson’s (3)
There are also studies that show that sulforaphane from broccoli sprout extract can enhance your natural detoxification processes from exposure to air pollution(4). What’s more, sulforaphane has been shown in a number of studies to inhibit H.pylori, a common chronic gut bacterial infection which is linked with stomach cancers and gastric ulcers (5) (6) (7) (we wrote a little more about H.pylori in our blog about digestion).
How can I get sulforaphane?
For most people the key source of sulforaphane will be cruciferous vegetables, however there are few things that can help with absorption and uptake:
- Vegetables should be only very lightly steamed. Myrosinase is particularly heat sensitive, so adding a little mustard powder or raw radish to your steamed veges will ensure you have adequate myrosinase enzymes to activate the sulforaphane precursor
- Sprouted broccoli seeds are very rich in sulforaphane precursors - these are easy to grow and can be eaten raw, retaining the myrosinase enzyme
- Broccoli Seed Extract supplementation such as Broccomax can be an easy way of getting adequate sulforaphane. This can be taken with meals and retains the enzyme myrosinase, which acts as a catalyst to increase the amount of sulforaphane and anti-inflammatory goodness you receive.
Why supplement with Broccoli Seed Extract?
The sulforaphane precursor glucoraphanin is heat sensitive, so it can be tricky to get good amounts of sulforaphane naturally without great care with your cooking. The myrosinase enzyme is also very heat sensitive and can be destroyed during the cooking process, which is why it is recommended to add mustard powder to steamed vegetables. Oxalates contained within raw or undercooked leafy green vegetables can also be an issue for some people. Broccoli seed extract such as Broccomax is a great option if you are concerned about oxalate exposure or just want a simple way to ensure you are getting enough antioxidants in your diet.