January 2, 2017
401 Sulforaphane [2 January 2017]
Sulforaphane is a beneficial compound found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. I just learned about it watching a 46 minute video by Dr. Rhonda Patrick titled “Sulforaphane and its Effects on Cancer, Mortality, Aging, Brain and Behavior, Heart Disease and More”.
I mentioned the health benefits of broccoli in my very first column back in March 2009 [#001]; recommended eating your broccoli raw in September 2012 [#184]; and encouraged chewing your broccoli to produce sulforaphane in November 2014 [#293]. This column adds information from recent research on the beneficial compounds found in cruciferous vegetables.
Studies show that risk of death from all causes (other than accidents) is reduced by 16% in those eating more vegetables of all kinds, and by 22% for those eating more cruciferous vegetables. The life-saving ingredient in the vegetables is believed to be a group of compounds called isothiocyanates of which sulforaphane is the best known. Sulforaphane indirectly regulates over 200 genes responsible for increasing antioxidant activity and reducing inflammation, important with all chronic degenerative disease. This translates into reduced risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease and aging, and improved brain function.
For example, studies have found that sulforaphane reduces the risk of prostate cancer by 41%, bladder cancer by 51%, lung cancer in smokers by 55%, and breast cancer by 20-40%. And if you already have cancer, taking sulforaphane will slow the progression of the disease. Sulforaphane also aids in the detoxification and excretion of carcinogens such as benzene (from auto exhaust and tobacco smoke).
Most of the all-cause mortality reduction found in the cruciferous study was due to fewer cardiovascular deaths. Sulforaphane reduced triglycerides and oxidized blood lipids, lowering the atherogenic index (risk of plaque formation) by 52%.
Sulforaphane crosses the blood-brain barrier where it reduces inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain, implicated in most neurodegenerative diseases and in traumatic brain injury. Sulforaphane has been shown to improve behavior with autism and schizophrenia, and improve symptoms of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases, and shows promise for depression and anxiety.
All cruciferous vegetables contain sulforaphane but the best source is fresh broccoli sprouts. The vegetables and sprouts don’t actually contain sulforaphane – they contain its precursor glucoraphanin along with the enzyme myrosinase which converts it to sulforaphane. Crushing or chewing the food mixes the enzyme and glucoraphanin, initiating the conversion process. High heat, as in prolonged boiling, destroys the myrosinase enzyme.
Some glucoraphanin is converted, in the presence of epithiospecifier protein (ESP), to an inactive form of sulforaphane. ESP is inactivated by heating. To maximize the sulforaphane production you want to heat the food enough to destroy the ESP but not the myrosinase. This can be achieved by steaming vegetables for 3-4 minutes or by soaking the vegetables in hot water at 60C, or sprouts at 70C, for 10 minutes. Patrick demonstrates heating sprouts in this video.
Remember to chew the vegetables and sprouts well. About 100g of sprouts provides 40mg of sulforaphane, an optimal amount.
My NY’s resolution is to grow and eat broccoli sprouts. Want to join me?
For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.