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Broccoli Sprouts: the Miraculous Brain Food

Written by Dr. Sunshine

We’re all looking for ways to feel good and lighten up. Well, I’ve got an easy one... a food that slows aging, improves brain function, prevents cancer, improves autism, balances inflammation and heals the gut. What?!!! Yes. That food is broccoli sprouts.  A recent scientific review on sulforaphane, which is WOW HIGH in broccoli sprouts, called it “miraculous.”  We’ll keep this article practical by focusing on how to get this nutrient into your diet. 

What are sprouts?

“Sprouts” are seeds that you grow in jars in a dark corner of your kitchen. You can get any kind of seed, grain, or bean into a “sprout” stage by soaking them and putting them in the dark. The life force of the seed activates and sends out a little shoot (sprout) to search for light. You keep the sprouts in the dark to prolong this inspiration. You rinse the sprouts to keep them vibrant.

Are broccoli sprouts the same as alfalfa sprouts or micro greens?

Alfalfa sprouts and micro greens DO NOT contain the miracle sulforaphane as broccoli sprouts, but they are beneficial for other reasons. Micro greens are grown in soil, but sprouts are simply seeds that are rinsed and left in the dark to sprout and search for light.

What are the benefits of broccoli sprouts on the gut?

As a gut recovery specialist, I’ll assure you, sprouts are so easy on the digestion.  Broccoli sprouts require healthy gut bacteria for full activation of the sulforaphane. Luckily, the sprouts gently help to recover that healthy microbiome. So, the longer you eat them regularly, the more you get out of them. A healthy microbiome can restore gut health and heal food intolerance. Learn more about the microbiome. I’m a fan of sprouting legumes, grains, beans, and seeds of all kinds. Today, we will stay focused on the golden miracle of broccoli sprouts. 

Can broccoli sprouts help improve or prevent medical conditions?

Yes. Due to the protective and antioxidative activity of sulforaphane, anyone with these conditions or folks desiring to prevent these conditions should add in broccoli sprouts to their diet daily (Roberto Santín-Márquez, 2019; Bai, 2015; Vanduchova, 2019).

Conditions:

  • Autism
  • Cancer prevention and improvement of cancer treatment 
  • Cardiovascular diseases prevention 
  • Diabetes
  • General inflammation and pain
  • Gut health/ improved digestion
  • H pylori infection or improving damage from aspirin/ibuprofen use (Yanka, 2017)
  • Lung improvement (due to glutathione nutrition) 
  • Neurodegenerative diseases and any brain-related concerns: Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Huntington’s disease, Multiple sclerosis,
  • Osteoporosis: improved bone health

How do I incorporate broccoli sprouts into my diet?

Broccoli sprouts are a light and easy food to incorporate into any meal. You can pick up broccoli sprouts at the grocery store (cold section) or grow them yourself (see my DIY Seed Sprouting Guide here)! Add broccoli sprouts to soups, sandwiches, salads, burritos, tacos, and pizzas. Or eat them plain as a snack! You can even freeze the sprouts for smoothies. Freezing the broccoli sprouts breaks down the plant cell walls and allows you even more nutrient access.

If you want to really nerd out on increasing the sulforaphane absorption in your broccoli sprouts, check out Rhonda Patrick’s video on heating your sprouts a bit.

Need an easy alternative to fresh broccoli sprouts?

If you’re someone who knows you need a major brain detox, call reception to get a bottle of our broccoli sprout concentrate capsules. Myself or the other NCNM naturopaths can help you determine if you have an increased need for sulforaphane. Schedule with me here.

Why not just grind the seeds up and eat them?

We do offer broccoli sprout concentrate capsules at NCNM. The medicine (sulforaphane) is not in the seed- it’s in the sprouts. This is common in nature.  Once we sprout seeds, beans, and grains, we can better absorb the nutrients from these foods.  The fibrous sprout contains soluble and insoluble fibers which are especially important for the activation and absorption of the sulforaphane. The sprouts also contain protein, vitamin C, vitamin A, healthy fiber, and other nutrients that are not bioavailable in the seed alone.

For example, if we sprout lentils before cooking them, we break down the anti-nutrients so that they are better absorbed in the body. Sprouting lentils also increases vitamin c content by 300%!!! Amazing.

How many sprouts should I eat to get the full benefits?

I recommend a ½ cup of fresh sprouts twice a day. But, any handful of sprouts will give you a brain boost- they’re just that potent. 

How do I grow sprouts at home? 

Homegrown sprouts are so fun! Buying seeds in bulk makes this practice very inexpensive. You can even freeze the seeds.  While in a state of dormancy with years-long shelf life, seeds are a powerful investment for the health of you and your family. 

Check out my DIY Seed Sprouting Guide

Also, with home sprouting you can get creative. Adding radish sprouts enhances the anti-cancer effect of the food and adds some extra zest (Liang, 2018).

Gut and Hormone Health Specialist

As a gut and hormone health specialist and research enthusiast, I can’t imagine a better nutrient to include in your daily diet than broccoli sprouts. I’ve been incorporating broccoli sprouts into my diet for 5 months. I feel an improved appetite and satiety (satisfyingly full sensation) after eating meals that include sprouts. And of course, I’m keeping this up to protect myself from my family history of colon cancer and alzheimer's!  (I’m also convinced eye floaters are considerably better, but there’s no research on that one). 


Articles cited: 

Bai Y, Wang X, Zhao S, Ma C, Cui J, Zheng Y. Sulforaphane Protects against Cardiovascular Disease via Nrf2 Activation. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2015;2015:407580. doi:10.1155/2015/407580

Liang H, Wei Y, Li R, Cheng L, Yuan Q, Zheng F. Intensifying sulforaphane formation in broccoli sprouts by using other cruciferous sprouts additions. Food Sci Biotechnol. 2018;27(4):957-962. Published 2018 Apr 4. doi:10.1007/s10068-018-0347-8

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. doi:10.1007/s11357-019-00061-7

Singh K, Zimmerman AW. Sulforaphane Treatment of Young Men with Autism Spectrum Disorder. CNS Neurol Disord Drug Targets. 2016;15(5):597-601. doi:10.2174/1871527315666160413122525

Vanduchova A, Anzenbacher P, Anzenbacherova E. Isothiocyanate from Broccoli, Sulforaphane, and Its Properties. J Med Food. 2019;22(2):121-126. doi:10.1089/jmf.2018.0024

Yanaka A. Role of Sulforaphane in Protection of Gastrointestinal Tract Against H. pylori and NSAID-Induced Oxidative Stress. Curr Pharm Des. 2017;23(27):4066-4075.
doi:10.2174/1381612823666170207103943

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