So first off, you're probably asking what the heck sulforaphane is. I'm just going to quote directly from Wikipedia here:
"Sulforaphane is a compound within the isothiocyanate group of organosulfur compounds. It is obtained from cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbages. It is produced when the enzyme myrosinase transforms glucoraphanin, a glucosinolate, into sulforaphane upon damage to the plant (such as from chewing), which allows the two compounds to mix and react. Young sprouts of broccoli and cauliflower are particularly rich in glucoraphanin."
In other words, it's an organic compound that contains sulfur. You can check out my blog post about the importance of sulfur in your diet. This little wonder molecule has been shown to have a lot of health promoting effects in animal models. There haven't been many studies on humans concerning this compound, but results from those animal models are pretty stunning.
The above video is an excerpt from an Interview Joe Rogan did with Dr. Rhonda Patrick, who I first heard about sulforaphane from. She's a huge proponent of it.
There are numerous benefits to consuming sulforaphane, but here are my top 5:
1. Sulforaphane is highly detoxifying
The compound indirectly increases the antioxidant capacity of cells by activating detox enzymes and increasing glutathione, the body's master antioxidant.
2. Sulforaphane prevents & kills cancer cells
Interestingly, the cancer preventative and cancer fighting properties of sulforaphane have been known about for a long time. A study by Dr. Paul Talalay at John Hopkins University back in 1991 showed the cancer prevention effects of this powerful compound. And just 3-5 servings of cruciferous veggies per week are enough to reduce cancer risk by 30%-40%.
3. Sulforaphane protects the brain and cognitive function
In animal models, sulforaphane has improved cognitive performance and reduced memory dysfunction, alleviated brain swelling/inflammation, increased brain derived neurotrophic factor, and increased the survival of hippocampal neurons.
4. Sulforaphane can prevent/combat heart and vascular disease
Heart disease is still the leading cause of death in the United States, followed closely by cancer.
Again, most of these studies are in animal models, but sulphoraphane has been shown to decrease blood pressure in rat models, and consumption of broccoli has been associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease.
5. Sulforaphane can reduce inflammation
It's common knowledge now that most diseases start with inflammation.
Sulforaphane inhibits NF-kB, a protein complex that causes inflammation in the body. It also activates Nrf2, a protein that binds to DNA and stimulates the release of powerful antioxidants in the body, like Catalase, Glutathione and Superoxide Dismutase. These antioxidants have a one to one million ratio when it comes to free radicals, as in one million antioxidants for every one free radical in the body. That's pretty powerful!
It's important to know that when you cook cruciferous veggies, you destroy the enzyme myrosinase, which is needed to transform glucoraphanin to sulforaphane, so eat your veggies raw when you can. Broccoli sprouts are a perfect, and a more palatable way, to do this. You can also mix shredded cabbage or finely chopped broccoli into your salad.
- Sulforaphane - Wikipedia
- 39 Proven Health Benefits of Sulforaphane, Broccoli Sprouts - Selfhacked.com
- The Landmark Johns Hopkins Sulforaphane Cancer Study Your Doctor Isn’t Telling You About - TheTruthAboutCancer.com
- Dietary Sulforaphane in Cancer Chemoprevention: The Role of Epigenetic Regulation and HDAC Inhibition - NIH
- What is Nrf2? - nrf2.com