Sulforaphane is a natural compound in cruciferous (Cabbage family) veggies. And the benefits of sulforaphane are one big reason why dark leafy greens appear on many lists of foods we should eat daily!
Our bodies manufacture this established cancer fighter from its glucosinate precursors found in:
- Brussels sprouts
- garden cress
- mustard greens
- Savoy cabbage
- red cabbage
- bok choy
And – last, but NOT least – broccoli sprouts. By some measures, they appear to contain far more sulforaphane per 100 grams than any other vegetable.
However, accurately measuring a food’s glucosinate levels is difficult. It often produces a widely ranging result for the same food. For example, broccoli’s sulforaphane content varies between 47 to 806 mg per 100 grams.
But this database from Australia’s Deakin University Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research ranked garden cress highest in sulforaphane at 389 mg/100 grams.
And this research from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Brassica Chemoprotection Laboratory suggests that 3-day-old broccoli sprouts have up to 100 times the concentration of broccoli!
The Amazing Benefits of Sulforaphane
When I read my post to my family about how broccoli sprouts boost natural killer cells, my wife commented, “We should start growing our own broccoli sprouts! They grow in just a few days.”
When reviewing Chef Ryan’s Broccolini recipe in January, I mentioned a study supporting broccoli sprouts’ sulforaphane as an “anti-cancer compound.”
And it’s s close to a universal cancer fighter as we’re likely to find. Sulforaphane reduces:
and colon cancer.
According to this 2019 meta-analysis of sulforaphane research headed by Beijing’s Institute of Biotechnology, it also accelerates cancer cell senescence (aging and death).
The Beijing researchers also include:
- anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic properties
- a lowering of placental and endothelial oxidative stress
- a reduction of mixed granulocyte asthma
- a positive influence on multiple neurological disorders
and protection against skeletal-muscular disease as more benefits of sulforaphane.
Finally, researchers at John Hopkins found an association between sulforaphane and better eyesight.
In other words, the benefits of sulforaphane make a jaw-dropping list. And the good news is that you can grow sulforaphane-rich garden-cress and broccoli sprouts at home!
Sprouting Seeds to Get the Benefits of Sulforaphane
Follow these steps, and within a few days, you can have one of the world’s healthiest snacks growing in your kitchen.
Things you’ll need:
- Organic garden cress or broccoli sprouting seeds
- Measuring spoon
- Clear glass, 1-quart Mason jar (or another wide-mouthed jar)
- Cheesecloth or hardware cloth
- Rubber band
- Non-chlorinated water (tap water you let stand overnight is fine)
- Warm, indirectly lit spot to keep the jar during sprouting
- Buy organic sprouting seeds from a trusted online marketer or your local garden supply store.
- Place two tablespoons of seeds in the clean Mason jar and cover them with 2 inches of lukewarm, non-chlorinated water.
- Secure cheesecloth over the jar’s mouth with the rubber band.
- Place jar in a warm cupboard overnight.
- Invert the jar and drain it, shaking if needed to get all the old water.
- Remove the covering and cover the seeds with fresh, non-chlorinated water.
- Re-attach the covering and place the jar out of direct light, preferably tilted downward, so it keeps draining.
- Rinse seeds two or three times daily. Fill the jar with fresh, cool, non-chlorinated water, shake it lightly for 10 seconds, drain, and repeat.
- Drain the jar and return it to its sprouting place.
- Place jar in direct sun when most of the seeds have sprouted so they can begin making chlorophyll. Continue rinsing them.
When the sprouts have greened up nicely, fill the jar with clean water, stir it, and skim off the hulls that float to the top. There will be LOTS of them!
Drain the jar and dry the sprouts. Refrigerate what you don’t eat immediately in a sealed container. It will keep for several days.
Tips on Growing Your Sprouts
It’s normal for the growing sprouts to have a strong sulfur smell. Frequent rinsing minimizes the odor and also keeps harmful bacteria from building up,
- Expect two tablespoons of seeds to yield about 3 cups of 3-to 4-day old sprouts. That’s about 48 cups per pound of seeds.
- For the most nutritional impact, eat your broccoli sprouts raw. If you cook them, prepare them with mustard seeds.
Why mustard seeds?
Cooking broccoli reduces its sulforaphane by more than one-third, according to the Deakin University database. Chopping it 40 minutes before cooking eliminates the problem, and so does preparing it with mustard seed.
Or enjoy the raw sprouts in sandwiches, salads, chilled soups, or smoothies.
Either way, we’re buying broccoli seeds today!