Contents:What are Cruciferous Vegetables? Why are Cruciferous Vegetables so important?
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
- Sulforaphane Protects the Gastrointestinal Tract(GI)
- Sulforaphane Promotes Healthy Skin
- Sulforaphane Improves Immune System Function
- Sulforaphane Promotes Weight Loss
- Sulforaphane Encourages Fully Body Detoxification
- Sulforaphane Reduces Autoimmune/General Inflammation
- Sulforaphane Promotes Hair Growth
- Sulforaphane Supports Healthy Liver Function
- Sulforaphane Combats Cancer
- Sulforaphane Lowers Bad Cholesterol
- Sulforaphane Reduces the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
- Sulforaphane Helps Control Diabetes
- Sulforaphane Acts as an Antiviral
- Sulforaphane Fights Fungal and Bacterial Infections
- Sulforaphane Slows Down Degenerative Disorders
- Sulforaphane Turbocharges Cognitive Function
- Sulforaphane Combats Depression/Anxiety
- Sulforaphane Can Reduce the Symptoms of Autism
- Sulforaphane May Help Asthma Sufferers
- Sulforaphane Alleviates Bladder Dysfunction
- Sulforaphane Promotes Healthy Eye Function
- Sulforaphane is Great for Bone Formation + Density
- Sulforaphane Improves Arthritis Symptoms
- Sulforaphane Shields the Kidneys from Disease
- Sulforaphane Facilitates a Healthy Pregnancy
What Are Cruciferous Vegetables?
Broccoli, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and bok choy are all examples of the cruciferous, or cabbage, vegetable family. The name stems from the latin Cruciferae, meaning ‘cross bearing’, as the general shape, including four leaves, resembling a cross. All of these vegetables share in common a slightly sharp, mustard-taste and, in fact, cruciferous vegetables are part of the mustard family.
These diverse veggies all endow multiple benefits, giving us a wide spectrum of vitamins and minerals. Perhaps most importantly, they all help to reduce bodily inflammation and play a huge role in fighting the possibility of developing cancer. Most people do not manage to get enough cruciferous veggies in their diets, but since a daily adult intake of only 2½ cups should do the job, it seems like something we could all easily do.
Why Are Cruciferous Vegetables so important?These veggies contain the mother lode. Seriously. Packed full of natural goodies, they give you a wide spectrum of essential benefits as follows:
1. Vitamin A:For good vision, cell growth, and a robust immune system. Vitamin A is also a powerful antioxidant and promotes strong neurological function.
2. Vitamin B:Including B9, or folic acid, the basic building bricks for DNA repair and synthesis. It’s also an important contributor to male/female sexual health and helps reduce cholesterol levels and the potential for stroke.
3. Vitamin C:Fights colds of course! C also helps you heal faster, protects skin from free radical sun exposure damage, and as an antioxidant plays a big role in cancer prevention.
4. Vitamin E:Protects at the cellular level against cancer, ultraviolet radiation, and when taken in healthy amounts really clamps down on free radicals in the body.
5. Vitamin K:Super important for overall bone health and healing. K works with vitamin D to make sure calcium regenerates bones and promotes a healthy ability for blood clotting.
6. Calcium:As the strengthening core of your skeletal system, calcium forms 2% of your body weight. However, it also protects your heart, regulates blood pressure, prevents kidney stones and colon cancer, and, of course, as the basis of teeth it gives you that beautiful smile.
7. Fibre:A form of carbohydrate that passes through your body and slows down the digestive process, fibre is the ‘bulk’ that keeps your system regular by acting as a slow working and natural laxative. Without it we wouldn’t be able to keep the body cleansed and in good working order.
8. Zinc:This promotes hormone production, so it enables robust growth and athletic performance. It’s critical for male fertility as it anchors testosterone production, and in doing the same for oestrogen and progesterone regulates female reproductive health. It also helps you sleep, think clearly, and maintain energy levels.
9. Iron:Around 70% of iron intake goes to forming haemoglobin and myoglobin in blood, the primary transporters of oxygen around your body. Adequate oxygen means healthy muscles, tissue, and brain. Iron also regulates your body temperature, boosts immunity, and helps fight chronic fatigue.
10. Carotenoids:As powerful antioxidants, carotenoid-rich foods protect against the excesses of sunlight, lack of water, and overheating. You may know the most familiar of the family, beta-carotene, as found in dark veggies and carrots. As carotenoids convert to Vitamin A, they are critical in regulating eye health.
11. Antioxidants:Cells are the building blocks of our bodies, and antioxidants defend them. They do this by preventing the oxidation of certain substances that create free radicals, a natural by-product of the body breaking down food, pollutants, or medicines. Too much sun means more free radicals too, and antioxidants hinder the cellular breakdown by stepping in and neutralising the nasties.
12. Phytonutrients:These are substances derived from plants. They contain a tonne of antioxidants, natural acids, enzymes, non-digestible carbohydrates and plant sterols, which help to block the absorption of cholesterol. They’re a treasure trove of potential!
13. Glucoraphanin:This is a compound found in broccoli, cauliflower, and mustard. The levels are particularly high in broccoli, and as a phytonutrient ingested in the digestive system, it holds huge promise by releasing high levels of…sulforaphane!
14. Sulforaphane:Here we come to the star of the show! What is sulforaphane? Well, when you eat broccoli, glucoraphanin converts to this biochemical nutrient compound. Once sulforaphane enters your bloodstream, it goes to work activating antioxidant defences throughout the body. Classed as an isothiocyanate, sulforaphane antioxidants are one of the most powerful ways to 'waken' your body and create a strong, resilient and active natural system defence. This is why ingesting sulforaphane foods makes sense. The sulpforaphane benefits are extensive and we will find out more about them below.
Broccoli Sprouts: The Ultimate Vegetable for Sulforaphane Benefits
Young broccoli plants hold the key to accessing huge levels of sulforaphane. At 3 to 4 days old, the tiny plants resemble alfalfa sprouts and exhibit a pleasantly bitter taste, but since raising good quantities of the plants takes considerable time and effort, people tend to miss out on them and receive low dietary levels of this wonder food. Broccoli sprout benefits are huge.
Critically, organic broccoli sprouts at this age contain the highest levels of glucoraphanin known in the vegetable world. As glucoraphanin converts to sulforaphane, the sprouts contain the largest potential sulforaphane food levels of the cancer-fighting isothiocyanate. Higher levels mean more enzyme vitality and capability to strengthen and detox the body’s immune system.
Crucially, although broccoli and other cruciferous veggies do contain the compound, nothing else comes close to the amazing broccoli sprout sulforaphane levels. In fact, three-day-old sprouts contain up to 100 times more than mature plants! In short, broccoli sprouts = sulforaphane!
Sulforaphane BenefitsSulforaphane effects have been extensively researched and the evidence is continually building for humans regarding the huge range of impressive potential sulforaphane benefits for your health :
1. Sulforaphane Protects the Gastrointestinal Tract(GI):A Japanese study found that broccoli sprouts, when ingested daily for two months, can protect against ulcers, stomach bugs, and possibly stomach cancer. Specifically effective against the Helicobacter pylori bacterium, sulforaphane proved to be a powerful antibiotic, reducing bacterial levels by 40%.
2. Sulforaphane Promotes Healthy Skin:Sulforaphane reduces inflammation and oxidative stress so when topically applied, it can help the skin oxygenate and breathe by enabling greater oxygen uptake.
3. Sulforaphane Improves Immune System Function:Sulforaphane activates an enzyme called Nrf2, a defensive protein that is extremely adept at hunting down and destroying carcinogenic free radicals, effectively preventing cancers from forming.
4. Sulforaphane Promotes Weight Loss:By activating Nrf2, sulforaphane releases a substance that improves the way the body’s adipose fat cells consume energy. By also improving your gut flora, the efficiency benefits are twofold and this can contribute to weight loss.
5. Sulforaphane Encourages Fully Body Detoxification:The Nrf2 activation also affects the way over 200 of the body’s genes express themselves, meaning an improved ability to dispose of toxins.
6. Sulforaphane Reduces Autoimmune/General Inflammation:Similar to the anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric, sulforaphane inhibits the body’s mechanism of sending inflammation signals to cell nuclei.
7. Sulforaphane Promotes Hair Growth:DHT causes hair follicle regression, leading ultimately to hair loss. Sulforaphane treatment has been shown to block this suppression, leading to improved growth.
8. Sulforaphane Supports Healthy Liver Function:Research indicates that oxidative stress caused by overworked liver function can be successfully reduced with broccoli sprout dietary supplementation. This is through suppression of the inflammatory response and the introduction of antioxidants.
9. Sulforaphane Combats Cancer:Sulforaphane and cancer is a hot topic. Antioxidants target cancerous cells while protecting healthy ones, and sulforaphane has been shown to reduce the overall number of cancer cells, kill other cells outright, and prevent existing cancer cells from generating new tumours. It may be the targeting of microtubules that results in success. These are the tiny fibres in living cells that control cell division. Sulforaphane blocks this progressive division and thus reduces the spread of cancer. Studies show this may be the case for breast, cervical, liver, prostate, and colorectal cancers.
10. Sulforaphane Lowers Bad Cholesterol:LDL levels are reduced by regular sulforaphane intake as specific genes are switched on to activate immune defence. This simply ‘rebalances’ your system so that LDL cholesterol production is therefore curbed.
11. Sulforaphane Reduces the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease:Sulforaphane appears to activate a protective protein that prevents atherosclerotic plaque development on the arterial walls of the heart. Therefore, regular intake could be part of a sensible cardiovascular health regimen.
12. Sulforaphane Helps Control Diabetes:Lab tests have shown that sulforaphane can help Type 2 diabetes patients in blood sugar control by inhibiting the production of liver glucose. Bodily response to viral incursion is increased when sulforaphane activates the immune system. This may contribute to better defence against respiratory/nasal viral conditions such as the flu.
14. Sulforaphane Fights Fungal and Bacterial Infections:One study has shown that sulforaphane suppressed and inhibited the growth of 23 out 28 total different bacterial and fungal species that were tested.
15. Sulforaphane Slows Down Degenerative Disorders:In current testing, sulforaphane has alleviated loss of motor coordination present in Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, and Parkinson’s. Amyloid beta peptides, which contribute to the plaque buildup in Alzheimer’s, are reduced via sulforaphane, and certain proteins that slow down degenerative conditions are also activated.
16. Sulforaphane Turbocharges Cognitive Function:Research supports the idea that sulforaphane helps working memory efficiency and task performance following certain head impacts or injuries. This could be due to inflammation reduction and the Nrf2 enzyme driving detox and free radical scavenging to reduce damage. Likewise, broccoli sprout extract has been shown to aid cognitive function in patients with schizophrenia.
17. Sulforaphane Combats Depression/Anxiety:Sulforaphane has been found to inhibit the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) area of the brain as well as the inflammatory response to stress. The results are lowered corticosterone transmission and reduced anxiety in chronic stress cases. Sulforaphane could be a realistic treatment for such disorders.
18. Sulforaphane Can Reduce the Symptoms of Autism:Similarly, significant research points to sulforaphane producing encouraging results that link sulforaphane and autism. Measuring behavioural improvement in autistic cases, one study noted marked increases in calmness, social responsiveness, and request compliance by caregivers after the patients had been blind tested with sulforaphane.
19. Sulforaphane May Help Asthma Sufferers:Reduction of free radical irritation of the upper airways can mitigate the stress caused by airborne pollutant inhalation in asthma sufferers. Sulforaphane via broccoli sprouts has been proven to increase antioxidant scavenging and thus aid the mucous effectiveness, resulting in lowered inflammation and symptoms. Similar effects can be seen in lung diseases such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
20. Sulforaphane Alleviates Bladder Dysfunction:Sulforaphane’s ability to kick-start the Nrf2 antioxidant response means that free radical scavenging and detoxification can increase. Such reduction of oxidative stress can also reduce bladder outlet obstruction, and therefore alleviate overall dysfunction.
21. Sulforaphane Promotes Healthy Eye Function:Sulforaphane has been shown to reduce the oxidative damage in the eyes associated with exposure to ultraviolet light. Diets richer in such foods as broccoli sprouts form a more preventative long-term approach to reducing macular degeneration and help protect your eyesight.
22. Sulforaphane is Great for Bone Formation + Density:As the effects against progressive osteoarthritis show, sulforaphane can deliver a protective effect that fosters conditions for healthy bone formation. This is true for existing instances in which bone quality improves at the micro-architectural level, and could mean it endows developmental strength in bone formation in babies and children.
23. Sulforaphane Improves Arthritis Symptoms:Since sulforaphane can to block certain signals, it can regulate the pathways relating to instances of chronic disease. Osteoarthritis results in crippling degradation of joints and cartilage, so blocking the inflammation in the first place could radically reduce damage and the resulting joint degradation, as well significantly mitigating chronic pain endured by sufferers.
24. Sulforaphane Shields the Kidneys from Disease:The ‘rebalancing’ effect of sulforaphane on bodily systems has been shown in kidney testing to normalise the ratio of albumin to creatinine. Abnormal ratios of these compounds indicate renal disease. The oxidative damage suppression and anti-inflammatory effects both further reduce stress.
25. Sulforaphane Facilitates a Healthy Pregnancy:Research has pointed to maternal ingestion of sulforaphane inducing the Nrf2 genetic expression in utero so that many of the above-listed benefits may also develop prior to birth. Particularly, this could relate to an increased protection of the foetus against toxins crossing the placental boundary, resulting in higher chances for full-term healthy babies.
Sulforaphane Supplements: Getting Broccoli Sprouts into your Diet
Ingesting fresh broccoli sprouts may be the logical route to upping your sulforaphane levels, though for several reasons this might not be as practical as you think. Depending on cultivation conditions, you may experience differing phytonutrient concentrations and therefore uncertain effectiveness. Remember that broccoli, like all plants, is highly variable regarding any specific concentration of active ingredients.
Multiple microclimatic, hydrological, disease or soil qualities will ultimately affect the nutritional outcome of the sprouts. Equally, timing is key and you may miss the optimum moment to ingest your sprouts when they will do you the most benefit. Again, depending on conditions, the optimum time could be from 48 hours to 5 days for highest sulforaphane levels. Growing your own sprouts, though undoubtedly fun, can be time-consuming and involve many steps including observation, rinsing, modification of light conditions, draining and de-hulling prior to consumption.
Ensuring you have access to 1-2 cups of sprouts per day per person, at the right moment, can again be a challenge! Using supplements can solve the issue of getting broccoli sprouts in your diet while on the go or within a hectic lifestyle. However, looking for reliable sulforaphane supplements and enzyme activated sulforaphane can also be confusing. Many market brands have inconsistent or low levels of glucoraphanin. Ensuring the site-grown sprouts have had sulforaphane levels tested and extracted to ensure a standard dosage requires relevant certification and guarantees.
It’s also important to gauge the uptake efficacy, or bioavailability, or what you use. Just ingesting glucoraphanin will give you an average bioavailability of 10%. Looking for myrosinase/enzyme activated products (with glucoraphanin) raises this figure to 35%. Taking sulforaphane alone means a 70% bioavailability. Look for a guaranteed yield of sulforaphane such as with Probiotic Power Greens.
Using broccoli sprouts to access the insanely beneficial addition of sulforaphane in your diet can be a smart move. Research is pointing to a slew of healthy reasons why it would be insane not to. From prevention of cancer and heart disease to organ function and sheer immune system defence, to alleviation of inflammatory issues and reducing depression, ensuring you ‘finish your greens’ by getting sulforaphane in your diet is a sensible choice for a healthy life.
The fact that oxidative stress is now commonly seen to be the causative factor in many diseases means that you need to look for ways to reduce that stress. Many ‘classic’ antioxidants found in vegetables are direct, meaning they actively terminate free radical reactions. Sulforaphane instead works to support the body so it self-induces protective mechanisms to fight oxidative stress.
This kind of indirect antioxidant functions more holistically to help your body help itself. Whether ingested fresh or via well researched and validated supplement products, broccoli sprouts are the most potent source of sulforaphane, a systemically effective addition to your diet that is essential for vitality and preventative health, whatever your age or circumstances. And that’s the bottom line.
List of Foods Containing High Sulforaphane Yield
- Brussels Sprouts
- Broccoli Raab
- Broccoli Sprouts
- Cabbage (Red & Savoy)
- Bok Choy
- Collard Greens
- Chinese Broccoli