We all know broccoli is healthy for us. That’s why our mothers made us eat it before we were excused from the dinner table. But most of us never asked the question: “Why? Why is broccoli healthy for me?”
The answer to this question lies in the very reason children (and some adults) don’t like the taste of broccoli: Sulforaphane.
Sulforaphane is the phytochemical (i.e., plant-based chemical) which makes broccoli so healthy for you. As the name implies, sulforaphane is sulfur-based, and it's a natural deterrent which keeps bugs from eating its juicy green leaves. Simply put, sulforaphane tastes horrible, so it keeps the bugs away. It is also why most children don’t like the taste.
Besides being both a bug and child deterrent, it also has some extraordinary health benefits (40 distinct benefits reported in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, to be exact). We will focus on just one for now: its anti-inflammatory property. Sulforaphane helps with inflammation two different ways.
First, it blocks nucleotide factor NF-κB, which is a proinflammatory signaling pathway. In fact, NF-κB has long been considered the “holy grail” of pathways to target for new anti-inflammatory drugs.
To simplify this concept, think of NF-κB pathway as a water faucet. When inflammation is “on”, the water is running. Sulforaphane turns the knob towards "off" to stop the water from flowing. (Source: the Journal of Medicinal Foods in 2013).
Second, sulforaphane promotes the anti-inflammatory pathway, nfr2. Nfr2 is a protein that regulates the “on switch” of antioxidant proteins that protect against oxidative damage triggered by inflammation. (Source: the Journal of Biological Chemistry in 2015).
In this study, mice were given 2 mg of sulforaphane per kg body weight. As a reference point, a 150-pound person taking 2 mg per kg would take 136 mg of sulforaphane. This amount of sulforaphane would be the equivalent to taking 9 capsules of BrocElite or 45 capsules of BroccoMax.
The take-home message from this research is that sulforaphane is great for chronic inflammation. Inflammation can be thought of as your immune system engaging an area of your body to help it heal. For example, if you have an infection, your immune cells are deployed to clear it.
The difference between chronic (long-term, bad) inflammation and acute (short-term, good) inflammation is that there is a failure to eliminate the cause of the initial inflammatory response. You could be chronically inflamed if you have gut issues from some initial insult, but then consistently eating sugary foods, which are known to cause inflammation. Your gut can never heal.
By taking sulforaphane, you flip the switch that turns on two different ways to stop this inflammation. As mentioned above, BrocElite is the only supplement on the market with actual sulforaphane in the capsule at a potency that can flip this switch.
Growing broccoli sprouts are another, less expensive but more labor-intensive way to get sulforaphane. Broccoli sprouts (after three days of germination) have about 50 times more sulforaphane than mature broccoli.
Next week, we’ll discuss how to make broccoli sprouts. But if you cannot wait, a nice video tutorial on how to make them can be found on Youtube.