One of the main reasons that eating cruciferous vegetables is so beneficial is because of their sulforaphane content. Sulforaphane is a phytonutrient classified as one of the isothiocyanate group, which has a wide range of effects in the body. Read on to discover my favourite 7.
1. Antioxidant activity. Numerous clinical studies indicate that sulforaphane has significant antioxidant effects, and according to a scientific paper published in Trends in Neuroscience, 2006, sulforaphane also stimulates the production of antioxidant enzymes. We need antioxidants to protect ourselves from the wide range of oxidative stresses that we are exposed to on a daily basis. For more information about oxidative stress and how it affects you, click here.
2. Detoxification. Detox is the buzzword of the decade, and not without good reason. In my book The Fatigue Solution, I have devoted a whole chapter to detox and why it is so important in fighting fatigue. Sulforaphane stimulates phase 1 and phase 2 detoxification in the liver and this has far-reaching benefits (see below). For the full lowdown on how to detox safely and very effectively, click here.
3. Anticancer. Leading on from the above, sulforaphane is very effective at detoxing potential carcinogens. This benefit is seen largely in phase 2 detoxification systems in the liver, and sulforaphane from broccoli appears to be dose-dependent – i.e. more broccoli, more detoxification of carcinogens. Broccoli sprouts, according to research conducted by Fahey, Zhang and Talalay, may be between 10 and 100 times more potent in this effect than consuming the mature plant. In other studies, sulforaphane from cruciferous vegetables has been shown to be protective against cancers of the breast, bladder, prostate, lung and colon. Good reason to grow your own broccoli sprouts in an automatic sprouter like the one I use – click here to buy one and quote RAWFOOD20 to get a 20% discount on this great kitchen device.
4. Antibacterial. H pylori is a bacterium that is implicated not just in gastric ulceration but also stomach cancer and, somewhat surprisingly, a heart condition known as atrial fibrillation, which leads to an irregular heartbeat. Research has shown that sulforaphane has the ability to destroy H pylori that resides both inside and outside the cell. It is as yet unknown how it does this, but it’s great to know that it does. Aren’t plants wonderful?
5. Anti-inflammatory. Since inflammation is something I have been fighting recently, this comes as great news. When sulforaphane is combined with curcumin from turmeric, there is a synergistic effect for reduction of inflammation. In nature, the sum is usually greater than the individual parts. Just as in cancer protection, the combination of nutrients from various plant sources is always more effective than one single ingredient (even if that ingredient is the wonderful sulforaphane).
6. Bone and cartilage health. Evidence is accumulating that not only could sulforaphane be useful in reducing the degradation of cartilage, but also might influence bone metabolism and protect against osteoporosis. For more information about keeping your bones healthy, click here.
7. Anti-Alzheimer’s. having lost my father to dementia, I am passionate about anything that can protect brain cells. It appears that via its detox action, sulforaphane could do just that. The studies are in the early stages, but why wait to increase your consumption of foods that are rich in sulforaphane?
And finally, it appears that raw really is best. With raw broccoli sprouts being shown to be significantly more powerful than the mature plant, what about the effects of cooking on sulforaphane? Naturally you would eat broccoli sprouts uncooked, but many people prefer to cook their “adult” broccoli. Studies have shown that boiling broccoli in water destroys 3 times the amount of sulforaphane than the process of steaming it. So if you must cook your broccoli, lightly steaming it is the way to go.
Want all the benefits of not just sulforaphane but the many, many other potent phytonutrients found in a rainbow-coloured variety of fruit, vegetables and berries? Click here for information on the scientifically proven supplement that I use and recommend. After all, we need all of the 25,000 phytonutrients found in the plant kingdom, not just sulforaphane.