Which vegetable has over 3 million Instagram posts and is one of the top vegetables recommended by nutritionists?
If your guess was broccoli, then you would be right and it’s not surprising considering all of the health benefits associated with it.
What is it about this vegetable that makes it so special? And could a small dose of broccoli sprouts be an easier way of obtaining these benefits?
Broccoli is part of the Brassica family of vegetables, which also includes kale, rocket, cauliflower and cabbage. These powerhouse vegetables are packed full of nutrients and beneficial compounds. Consuming these vegetables in the diet is strongly linked to a reduced risk of chronic disease.  
Whilst broccoli contains a host of nutrients, many of its reported benefits are actually linked to a compound called sulforaphane.
Hidden inside of broccoli cells is a phytochemical called glucoraphanin along with an enzyme known as myrosinase. The magic happens when broccoli is cut or chewed and the glucoraphanin interacts with myrosinase. The myrosinase converts glucoraphanin converting it into the bioactive compound sulforaphane.
Broccoli is not the only cruciferous vegetable which produces sulforaphane but it does yield very high amounts. What’s more, broccoli sprouts are an even more concentrated source of glucoraphanin, with at least 20 times the amount of glucoraphanin than mature broccoli. 
Essentially a broccoli sprout is a 3-4 day old broccoli plant. When you eat raw broccoli sprouts, you are getting all the benefits from different parts of the broccoli plant, along with a concentrated shot of sulforaphane.
What does sulforaphane do?
In a nutshell, sulforaphane activates pathways that protect our cells from environmental toxins and oxidative stressors and it also enhances our detoxification capacity.3
How does sulforaphane work?
Sulforaphane is a powerful activator of the Nrf2- Keap1 signalling pathway. The activation of this pathway increases the production of our body’s major antioxidants such as glutathione and superoxide dismutase.3
We are constantly exposed to environmental and chemical toxins on a day to day basis. Whilst our body has inbuilt detoxification mechanisms to manage this, it is good to know that we can support these detoxification pathways and enhance the elimination of such potentially harmful substances.
Sulforaphane is an ideal detoxifying agent because it up regulates our Phase II enzymes. Phase II enzymes have protective effects against things such as air pollution, diesel exhaust particles, tobacco smoke, BHT preservatives, certain medications and heavy metals. 
So far, research has shown that the protective effects of sulforaphane reach the brain, lungs, kidneys and liver.3 When you consider that all of these organs have a high capacity for detoxification it makes sense.
Broccoli sprouts and sulforaphane help the lungs to clear out environmental toxins that contribute to respiratory conditions. In a farming community exposed to airborne pollutants with a high risk of liver cancer, eating broccoli sprouts enhanced the detoxification of airborne pollutants and reduced the risk of cancer. 
The consumption of whole plant foods or their pure extracts to prevent cancer is known as green chemoprevention. 
Sulforaphane is emerging as a potent chemo-preventive agent because of its ability to effect numerous cellular pathways that control cancer. Some of the actions of sulforaphane that have been researched include anti-inflammatory, pro-apoptotic and the modulation of histones. 15
In addition to detoxification and anti-oxidative benefits, sulforaphane may help regulate inflammatory pathways in the body inhibit the secretion of several pro-inflammatory compounds. 3
In a recent 2018 study, broccoli sprouts were able to reduce markers of inflammation in healthy overweight subjects. The study participants consumed 30 g of broccoli sprouts per day for 10 weeks. At the end of the study period, the participants had significantly lower levels of the inflammatory markers Interleukin-6 (Il-6) and C-reactive protein (CRP). 
Animal and human studies have found broccoli sprouts seem to protect the stomach lining from gastritis (inflammation)  and may reduce the inflammatory component of Helicobacter pylori infections. 
Our antioxidant defences have been shown to decrease during ageing. Specifically, Nrf2 signalling has been shown to decrease. As sulforaphane can activate the Nrf2 pathway it may slow the decline in antioxidant defence mechanisms that are associated with aging. 3
Our skin can age as a consequence of being exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UVR) from sunlight, excessive alcohol consumption, smoking and environmental pollution. Sulforaphane has been shown to protect against ultraviolet-induced skin damage and help to maintain collagen levels during photo-aging.3
Broccoli sprout is a key player in maintaining your cellular health and supporting detoxification in the body. With its broad range of biological actions it is a sure-fire way to protect your cells against the onslaught of toxins that we are exposed to in our modern environments. Broccoli sprout is perfect for those people living or working close to busy roads, and highly populated cities.
What is the best way to obtain Sulforaphane?
The easiest and most convenient way to obtain sulforaphane is to eat raw broccoli sprouts or simply take them in a concentrated powder form. Broccoli sprout is the best natural, wholefood source of sulforaphane available.
What about broccoli?
While eating broccoli is very beneficial, you need to eat much larger quantities to get the same amount of sulforaphane compared with the sprouts. Also, you would need to eat the broccoli raw, or lightly steamed if you want all of those benefits from sulforaphane.  Cooking broccoli de-actives myrosinase, and therefore you lose out on some of the benefits of sulforaphane.
Supercharge your cells with broccoli sprouts
If you are looking for a convenient, nutritious and whole-food way to supercharge your cellular defence, enhance detoxification and reduce the effects of aging you should try broccoli sprouts!
The versatile broccoli sprout is compatible with most dietary regimes such as paleo, ketogenic, vegan, and gluten-free just to name a few!
Concentrated broccoli sprout powders are a flexible and convenient option for busy people on the go and fussy eaters. Broccoli sprout powder can easily be added to your favourite juices or smoothies or simply just mixed with water.
Broccoli sprouts are well tolerated with minimal to no side effects and can be safely added into your daily diet.
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 Tortorella SM, Royce SG, Licciardi PV, Karagiannis TC. Dietary sulforaphane in cancer chemoprevention: the role of epigenetic regulation and HDAC inhibition, Antioxid. Redox Signal.2015;22:1382–1424.
 Blekkenhorst LC, Sim M, Bondonno CP, et al. Cardiovascular Health Benefits of Specific Vegetable Types: A Narrative Review. Nutrients. 2018;10(5)595.1-24.
 Santín-Márquez R, Alarcón-Aguilar A, López-Diazguerrero NE, Chondrogianni N, Königsberg M. Sulforaphane - role in aging and neurodegeneration. Geroscience. 2019;41(5):655–670.
 Fahey JW , Zhang Y, Talalay P. Broccoli sprouts: An exceptionally rich source of inducers of enzymes that protect against chemical carcinogens. Proc Natl Acad Sci. 1997; 94: 10367–10372.
 Riedl MA, Saxon A, Diaz-Sanchez D. Oral sulforaphane increases Phase II antioxidant enzymes in the human upper airway. Clin Immunol. 2009;130(3):244–251.
 Delfino RJ, Staimer N, Vaziri ND. Air pollution and circulating biomarkers of oxidative stress. Air Qual Atmos Health. 2011;4(1):37–52.
 Liu Q, Gao Y, Ci X. Role of Nrf2 and Its Activators in Respiratory Diseases. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2019;2019:7090534.
 Kensler TW, Ng D, Carmella SG, et al. Modulation of the metabolism of airborne pollutants by glucoraphanin-rich and sulforaphane-rich broccoli sprout beverages in Qidong, China [published correction appears in Carcinogenesis. 2012;33(3):722] Carcinogenesis. 2012;33(1):101–107.
 Bayat Mokhtari R, Baluch N, Homayouni TS, et al. The role of Sulforaphane in cancer chemoprevention and health benefits: a mini-review [published correction appears in J Cell Commun Signal. 2017]. J Cell Commun Signal. 2018;12(1):91–101.
 Lopez-Chillon M, Cazazo-Diaz C, Prieto-Merino D, Zafrilla P, Moreno DA, Villano D. Effects of long-term consumption of broccoli sprouts on inflammatory markers in overweight subjects. Clin Nutr.2019; 38(2):745-752.
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 Yanaka A, Fahey JW, Fukumoto A, et al. Dietary Sulforaphane-Rich Broccoli Sprouts Reduce Colonization and Attenuate Gastritis in Helicobacter pylori–Infected Mice and Humans. Cancer Prev Res. 2009;2(4): 353-360.
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