I’m betting that by now you have a good idea just how healthy cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli are. Eating these everyday superfoods can provide your body with a long list of important vitamins, minerals and nutrients. Plus research shows these so-called Brassica veggies could also help you reduce your risk for cancer and other health problems.
But if you’ve never tried (or even heard of) broccoli sprouts, it’s time to think about expanding your cruciferous veggies lineup. Because these often overlooked sprouts deliver such a powerful antioxidant punch—up to 50 times higher than broccoli’s—that adding them to your menu will be a no-brainer.
Broccoli sprouts—which are the sprouts of three to four day old broccoli plants—are crunchy and delicious, with a surprising peppery bite that might remind you of radishes. They can spice up salads, elevate sandwiches to a whole new level and they’re the perfect partner when paired with broccoli or mixed veggies.
Your local mainstream grocery store might not carry broccoli sprouts, but don’t let that stop you, they’re well worth the hunt. You can often find them at natural food stores and farmer’s markets. Or, if you have a green thumb, you can pick up some organic broccoli seeds online and sprout some of your own.
Following are just four of the many reasons, besides taste, that you should consider eating more broccoli sprouts.
Build a barrier against cancer:
Broccoli sprouts are rich in an enzyme called myrosinase, which gets converted into a powerful, anti-inflammatory antioxidant called sulforaphane when you chew them.
If the word sulforaphane looks familiar that’s because we’ve told you about this compound before. Experts say sulforaphane could significantly slash your risk for a number of cancers including breast, bladder, prostate, kidney, oral, stomach and colorectal cancers.1,2,3
You can get some of the potent, cancer-fighting compound from eating mature broccoli stalks too. But all too often the myrosinase in broccoli is destroyed in cooking, which means raw broccoli sprouts are often a better source of sulforaphane.
Experts say eating three to five servings of Brassica veggies a week, such as broccoli sprouts, can slash your cancer risk by 30 to 40 percent.1
To help build a stronger barrier against cancer try a combination of broccoli and sprouts. Steam the broccoli for no more than four minutes to retain as much of the vegetable’s cancer-fighting power as possible, and then mix in some broccoli sprouts right before serving to double the cancer-fighting effects of the broccoli alone.
Slash your risk of ulcers:
A daily broccoli sprout habit could protect you against ulcers too, according to a study published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research.4
When researchers at Johns Hopkins University had volunteers eat around two and half ounces of the sprouts a day their levels of H. pylori—the bacteria that trigger ulcers—plummeted by 40 percent. That kind of drop could keep ulcers at bay while offering some protection against stomach cancer too.
Later human studies have confirmed that a daily dose of broccoli sprouts can temporarily help tackle H. pylori and reduce stomach inflammation.5.6.7
Protect you from pollutants:
You’re constantly breathing in health harming pollutants from the air around you raising your risk for a variety of health problems from breathing issues to cancer. But, according to research published in the journal Carcinogenesis, broccoli sprouts may be able to help you detox from these dangerous pollutants, reducing your risks.
Researchers asked a group of volunteers who were regularly exposed to a high level of air pollutants to drink a sulforaphane-rich beverage made with broccoli sprouts for one week. They found the folks who drank the sulforaphane beverage excreted far more of the dangerous cancer-linked pollutants in their urine, reducing their risk for cancer.8
Other research has found sulforaphane can help reduce the inflammation and allergic symptoms that are triggered by diesel fumes, protect human white blood cells against pesticide-induced DNA damage and even reduce the harmful effects of HCA’s the cancer-linked chemicals we recently warned you about in our letter on reducing grilled food dangers.9,10,11
Help keep your heart healthy:
A growing stack of studies is adding to the evidence that a sulforaphane-rich diet could help protect our hearts, too.
For example, sulforaphane was shown to significantly improve blood pressure in an animal study published in the, American Journal of Hypertension.12 And when broccoli sprouts were fed to lab rats for just 10 days, the sprouts protected the critter’s hearts from ischemia, reducing oxidative stress 82 to 116 percent and cell death 78-86 percent.13
Other studies have shown the powerful antioxidant could help protect against hardening of the arteries and heart disease.14,15 And eating 100 grams of broccoli sprouts for a week could significantly reduce total and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, while raising HDL (“good”) cholesterol, according to a study published in the journal BioFactors.16
Broccoli sprouts are brimming with both taste and benefits. This disease-fighting super sprout deserves a spot on your menu starting today.
1. “Dietary Sulforaphane in Cancer Chemoprevention: The Role of Epigenetic Regulation and HDAC Inhibition,” Antioxid Redox Signal. 2015 Jun 1; 22(16): 1382–1424
2. “Mechanisms for inhibition of colon cancer cells by sulforaphane through epigenetic modulation of microRNA-21 and human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) down-regulation,” Curr Cancer Drug Targets. 2017 Feb 5.
3. “Sulforaphane targets cancer stemness and tumor initiating properties in oral squamous cell carcinomas via miR-200c induction.,” J Formos Med Assoc. 2017 Jan;116(1):41-48
4. “Dietary Sulforaphane-Rich Broccoli Sprouts Reduce Colonization and Attenuate Gastritis in Helicobacter pylori–Infected Mice and Humans,” Cancer Prevention Research, April 2009, Volume 2, Issue 4
5. “Diet and Helicobacter pylori infection,” Prz Gastroenterol. 2016; 11(3): 150–154
6. “Dietary sulforaphane-rich broccoli sprouts reduce colonization and attenuate gastritis in Helicobacter pylori-infected mice and humans,” Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2009 Apr;2(4):353-60
7. “Dietary Amelioration of Helicobacter Infection,” Nutr Res. 2015 Jun; 35(6): 461–47
8. “Modulation of the metabolism of airborne pollutants by glucoraphanin-rich and sulforaphane-rich broccoli sprout beverages in Qidong, China,” Carcinogenesis (2012) 33 (1): 101-107
9. “Antioxidant enzyme induction: a new protective approach against the adverse effects of diesel exhaust particles,” Inhal Toxicol. 2007;19 Suppl 1:177-82
10. “Evaluation of protective effects of sulforaphane on DNA damage caused by exposure to low levels of pesticide mixture using comet assay,” J Environ Sci Health B. 2009 Sep;44(7):657-62
11. “Inhibition of mutagenicity of food-derived heterocyclic amines by sulforaphane–a constituent of broccoli,” Indian J Exp Biol. 2003 Mar;41(3):216-9
12. “The dietary phase 2 protein inducer sulforaphane can normalize the kidney epigenome and improve blood pressure in hypertensive rats,” Am J Hypertens. 2012 Feb;25(2):229-35
13. “Dietary broccoli sprouts protect against myocardial oxidative damage and cell death during ischemia-reperfusion,” Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2010 Sep;65(3):193-9
14. “Sulforaphane attenuates the development of atherosclerosis and improves endothelial dysfunction in hypercholesterolemic rabbits,” Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2016 Feb; 241(4): 426–436
15. “Sulforaphane Protects against Cardiovascular Disease via Nrf2 Activation,” Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2015; 2015: 407580
16. “Phase 1 study of multiple biomarkers for metabolism and oxidative stress after one-week intake of broccoli sprouts,” Biofactors. 2004;22(1-4):271-5
She is an advocate of self-education and is passionate about the power of group knowledge sharing, like the kind found right here on HealthierTalk.com. Alice loves to share her views on holistic and natural healing as well as her, sometimes contentious, thoughts on the profit-driven inner workings of traditional medicine.
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