Broccoli Sprouts: An Anti-Aging and Anti-Cancer Superfood
By Dr. Justin Marchegiani
Broccoli and other members of the cruciferous vegetable family (kale, brussel sprouts, etc.) are known for their numerous health benefits. However, it is just being discovered that young broccoli sprouts may contain even more powerful properties than the matured product!
Broccoli Sprouts and “Sulforaphane”
Broccoli sprouts, at only a couple of days old, are chock-full of a cancer-fighting compound called sulforaphane (broccoli sprouts contain glucoraphanin and an enzyme called myrosinase, which turn into sulforaphane once you start chewing). Sprouting broccoli seeds in water for only three days provides us with one of the strongest anti-cancer and anti-aging medicines that nature has to offer.
Sulforaphane is a natural activator of the Nrf2 pathway, which affects the expression of over 200 genes in our bodies! These include antioxidants, anti-inflammatory genes, and genes that disarm harmful compounds in the body. Sulforaphane is more bioavailable than polyphenols that work to activate the same pathway. In addition, the sulforaphane in broccoli sprouts is even more powerful at protecting cells than other widely appreciated compounds such as curcumin, silymarin, and resveratrol.
Recent studies reveal several area in which sulforaphane has been shown to positively affect the course of aging. Sulforaphane has been correlated with anti-aging effects ranging from lowered blood pressure and reduced inflammation to reduced risk of neurocognitive disease and cancer.
Broccoli sprouts protect heart health by lowering blood pressure as well as reducing risk of hypertension, heart disease, and heart attack. Researchers believe this is because of sulforaphanes ability to regulate DNA methylation and its link to hypertension. Studies have shown broccoli sprouts lower both blood pressure and high triglycerides. Another study revealed broccoli sprouts to minimize the damage caused by a heart attack.
Studies were performed on participants from rural Chinese communities with extreme pollution. Through the consumption of broccoli sprouts, individuals excreted significantly more toxins than those who took a placebo. The detoxifying properties have also been shown to expel environmental toxins that are known to aggravate allergies.
As chronic inflammation is indicative of accelerated aging, broccoli sprouts can help your body stay young! The anti-inflammatory properties of sulforaphane has been shown to reduce osteoporosis, fight against gut infections such as H. pylori, ease the inflammation that is associated with allergies, and even helps with multiple sclerosis.
There are inflammatory aspects of neurocognitive diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, and Parkinson’s. In studies performed on mice, these conditions improved with the administration of sulforaphane! There is promising research showing that broccoli sprouts can even help prevent the development of these diseases in the first place. In addition, depression has a similar inflammatory component which has been benefited by broccoli sprouts.
While we could study at length the seemingly unending list of health benefits, the last one we are going to focus on are the anti-cancer properties of broccoli sprouts. As we learned, the sulforaphane in broccoli sprouts has a detoxifying effect. This is one way in which broccoli sprouts are anti-cancer.
Cruciferous vegetable consumption is linked to lower rates of cancer. Broccoli sprouts in particular are anti-cancer because of their ability to kill cancer cells! Sulforaphane has the ability to deactivate enzymes that turn potential cancer cells into real cancer cells; stopping the problem before it becomes one! Sulforaphane’s ability to lower inflammation and to activate antioxidant genes are two other anti-cancer properties.
Broccoli sprouts are finally being discovered for their endless health benefits. However, some are left with a much simpler question: how do I eat them?
Broccoli sprouts have a slightly bitter, sulfuric taste. It is important not to cook them, as heat destroys the healthy compounds! There are other great ways to mask the flavor: add them to wraps and sandwiches, sprinkle them on avocado toast, use them to top your salad, or even mix them into dips like guacamole! Sprouts are 100x stronger than mature broccoli (sometimes the smallest packages pack the biggest punch!), an average of only 100g of broccoli sprouts were used in these studies to prove the amazing health benefits.