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Sulforaphane and why Broccoli Sprouts are the Ultimate Superfood

By Paula Vargas September 25, 2020

Sulforaphane and why Broccoli Sprouts are the Ultimate Superfood

You may know broccoli as a cruciferous vegetable that is great for your health, but did you know broccoli sprouts contain concentrations of beneficial compounds, in much greater quantity? They are often talked about as one of the most potent superfoods. A ‘superfood’ is considered as such when it contains a high amount of nutrients in a small amount of volume, and broccoli sprouts fit the profile!  

The major bioactive aspect of broccoli sprouts, Sulforaphane, can influence gene expression, turning on beneficial cellular functions and turning down those that can have a negative effect. Broccoli sprouts contain up to 100 times more than mature broccoli!

What is Sulforaphane? 

Sulforaphane an isothiocyanate (a sulfur-containing organic compound), and it is the reason why cruciferous vegetables are praised as some of the healthiest on the planet!  It's found in cruciferous vegetables like kale, cabbage, and broccoli, but the greatest dietary source of sulforaphane is broccoli sprouts. 

Sulforaphane has one of the biggest potentials of benefits of all the dietary polyphenols, though, at the moment, it should be noted that most of the evidence is limited to animal and cell research. 

Sulforaphane has been shown to activate Nrf2, a special protein in your body. When activated, Nrf2 binds to ARE (Antioxidant Response Element), which switches on antioxidants in the body. It causes your body to make glutathione and other important antioxidants, which help to protect you against disease and inflammation. 

What you should know: Sulforaphane is the most powerful inducer of phase 2 detoxification enzymes, and increasing glutathione (major antioxidant) levels 

Check out just some of Sulforaphane's benefits:

  • Anti-aging and longevity 
  • Cancer prevention 
  • Reducing cholesterol 
  • Assisting to improve diabetes symptoms 
  • Immune system support 
  • Assisting brain function 
  • Hormonal support 
  • Detoxification support via the liver 
  • Decreasing incidence of cardiovascular disease 
  • Assisting to prevent weight gain and obesity 
  • Reducing inflammation 
  • Possible application for depression and anxiety 
  • Possible assistance in substance abuse cases 
  • Possible assistance in managing pain 

How to activate Sulforaphane:

Sulforaphane is activated when glucoraphanin comes into contact with myrosinanse, a family of enzymes that play a role in the defense response of plants. Myrosinase enzymes are only released and activated when a plant is damaged. Therefore, the veg must be cut, chopped or chewed to release myrosinase and activate sulforaphane. You've heard it before, and we'll say it again - chew your veggies!

Sulforaphane works mainly by lowering inflammation and oxidizing nasty toxins that build up in your body. The primarily pathways sulforaphane improves are unique to cruciferous vegetables, and this is why it's important to include them in your regular diet. As always, variety is best, but for the most bang for your buck, get sprouting!

Ready to get your sprout on? 

You can either grow broccoli sprouts at home, even if you don’t have a green thumb. If you don’t have the time or desire to do so, you can also find the benefits of broccoli sprout extract in products such as the Broccoli Sprout Powder by Super Sprout, Estro Switch by Switch Nutrition, and Hormone Metabolism by Herbs of Gold. Though there isn't a properly defined amount of Sulforaphane to consume daily, ranges are approximately 30-60mg per day. This would mean at least 85g of broccoli sprouts, or you could combine eating sprouts and cruciferous vegetables with supplementation to get the best effect.

References:

  • Clarke JD, Dashwood RH, Ho E. Multi-targeted prevention of cancer by sulforaphane. Cancer Lett. 2008 Oct 8;269(2):291-304. doi: 10.1016/j.canlet.2008.04.018. Epub 2008 May 27. PMID: 18504070; PMCID: PMC2579766.
  • Egner PA, Chen JG, Wang JB, Wu Y, Sun Y, Lu JH, Zhu J, Zhang YH, Chen YS, Friesen MD, Jacobson LP, Muñoz A, Ng D, Qian GS, Zhu YR, Chen TY, Botting NP, Zhang Q, Fahey JW, Talalay P, Groopman JD, Kensler TW. Bioavailability of Sulforaphane from two broccoli sprout beverages: results of a short-term, cross-over clinical trial in Qidong, China. Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2011 Mar;4(3):384-95. doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-10-0296. PMID: 21372038; PMCID: PMC3076202.
  • Frank, K., Patel, K., Lopez, G. and Willis, B., 2020. Sulforaphane Research Analysis. [online] Examine.com. Available at: [Accessed 25 September 2020].
  • Lee S, Choi BR, Kim J, LaFerla FM, Park JHY, Han JS, Lee KW, Kim J. Sulforaphane Upregulates the Heat Shock Protein Co-Chaperone CHIP and Clears Amyloid-β and Tau in a Mouse Model of Alzheimer's Disease. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2018 Jun;62(12):e1800240. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201800240. Epub 2018 May 28. PMID: 29714053.
  • Nakagawa K, Umeda T, Higuchi O, Tsuzuki T, Suzuki T, Miyazawa T. Evaporative light-scattering analysis of sulforaphane in broccoli samples: Quality of broccoli products regarding sulforaphane contents. J Agric Food Chem. 2006 Apr 5;54(7):2479-83. doi: 10.1021/jf051823g. PMID: 16569031.
  • Nootropedia. 2020. Sulforaphane. [online] Available at: [Accessed 25 September 2020].
  • SelfHacked. 2020. 7+ Sulforaphane Benefits (Broccoli Sprouts Or Supplements) - Selfhacked. [online] Available at: [Accessed 25 September 2020].
  • Yagishita Y, Fahey JW, Dinkova-Kostova AT, Kensler TW. Broccoli or Sulforaphane: Is It the Source or Dose That Matters?. Molecules. 2019;24(19):3593. Published 2019 Oct 6. doi:10.3390/molecules24193593

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