Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and Bok choy have the potential to help your body detoxify harmful chemicals, reduce inflammation, and increase your body’s natural antioxidants. These powerful affects are attributed to a compound called sulforaphane.
Sulforaphane has been extensively studied and has been shown to help prevent cancer, lower cholesterol, boost the immune system, improve cognitive function, and reduce inflammation. It has also been shown to be a promising adjunct during chemotherapy by increasing drug efficacy while at the same time reducing drug toxicity.
Interestingly, sulforaphane is not present in whole cabbage, cauliflower, kale leaves and broccoli. It is only formed upon mechanical injury to the vegetable. When raw cruciferous vegetables are chopped or chewed, an enzyme called myrosinase is released causing the conversion of glucoraphanin to sulforaphane.
It is important to note that cooking cruciferous vegetables at high heat and extended times reduces the sulforaphane content. The recommended preparation techniques to ensure the highest content of this powerful compound is as follows:
1. Chop fresh cruciferous vegetables and let it sit afterwards for 15 minutes before cooking. Chopping releases myrosinase and promotes the formation of sulforaphane. Frozen broccoli, kale and cauliflower already have appreciable amounts of sulforaphane due to processing. Sulforaphane content is not diminished during freezing and some studies show that it may be increased.
2. Cook the vegetable with low heat (125-140 F) with minimal moisture (enough to prevent scorching)
3. Cook for only 5-8 minutes.
However, to get the highest amount of sulforaphane in your diet, consume ¾ cup of broccoli sprouts per day. Make sure to chew them thoroughly to release the myrosinase. The best and cheapest way to get broccoli sprouts is by sprouting them yourself. Here are sprouting tips:
1. Follow sprouting directions. Check out this website for more information: https://savvygardening.com/how_to_grow_broccoli_sprouts/
2. Use glass jars with stainless steel mesh lids
3. Locate sprouting jars in natural light (though out of direct sunlight). This increases sulforaphane levels.
4. Rinse seeds and sprouts with filtered water
After you sprout your seeds, enjoy them on a salad, add them to stir-fries, top your favorite dishes, or simply eat them as a snack. Remember to chew the sprouts thoroughly to release myrosinase for the creation of sulforaphane.
Remember that if you do not have the time nor the interest in sprouting, there are sulforaphane supplements available on the market –though buyer beware as they do not all contain appreciable levels of the product. For more information regarding effective supplementation of sulforaphane, please feel free to contact Frances Siver, MS, RDN, LDN, IFNCP at Food Centered Solutions Advanced Nutrition Counseling.
The board certified Integrative and Functions Nutritionist at Food Centered Solutions are specially trained to help you attain improved health and digestive function.
Call us today for your free 15-minute consultation.
Food Centered Solutions, LLC
Frances Siver, MS, RDN, LDN, CLT, IFNCP, CGN
C: 904-526-0082 Board Certified in Integrative and Functional Nutrition