What’s so special about sulforaphane?

Why are sulforaphane supplements and skin care products gaining so much popularity? It’s because sulforaphane has a profound effect on anti-aging, protects against UV damage and contains many cancer protective properties.  Products that are derived from broccoli or broccoli sprout extract are generally concentrated; containing more sulforaphane found in food. Although, it is still extremely beneficial to have a diet that is high in this sulfur rich antioxidant compound.

Enhancing the detoxification process is one of the best ways to defend against carcinogens and high sulforaphane foods are an excellent way to achieve this goal. A list of vegetables that include sulforaphane are cruciferous vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, bok choy, kale, collards, kohlrabi, turnip, radish and watercress.

To maintain sulforaphane content, it’s best to avoid boiling or microwaving cruciferous vegetables. Instead, eat the raw or lightly steamed to maximize potency.

In addition to sulforaphane anti-cancer and anti-aging benefits, here are a few more impressive ones:

1. May improve Cardiovascular Health

Inflammation can contribute to heart disease by narrowing of the arteries. Sulporaphane reduces inflammation and additionally reduces blood pressure, which may prevent cardiovascular problems.

2. May protect against Diabetes

Type 2 diabetics have trouble maintaining healthy blood sugar levels because they can’t effectively transport sugar from their blood to their cells. Sulforaphane can help to reduce fasting blood sugar levels and improve hemoglobin A1c, a marker of long-term blood sugar control.

3. May be useful for Autism symptoms

Studies have shown that daily doses of sulforaphane have improved symptoms of autism such as verbal communication and social interaction.

4. May promote brain health

Animal studies have shown that sulforaphane may help to improve recovery and mental decline following a brain injury.

5. May relieve constipation

It can be used as a tool for detoxification which improves elimination. It also helps to modulate intestinal microflora, promoting smooth defecation.

6. May lower cholesterol

Sulforaphane is produced in the body from glucoraphanin, which is rich in broccoli. This can help to significantly reduce LDL cholesterol and increase HDL cholesterol. Broccoli sprouts can also improve oxidative stress markers.

7. May boost immunity

It increases the activity of natural killer cells. These are responsible for playing a major role in the host rejection of tumors and virally infected cells. It can also restore the decline of cellular immunity that happens with aging. Additionally, sulforafane has antiviral properties that can help prevent against the flu, HIV, Epstein-Barr and the hepatitis C virus.

While there is some question if we should be concerned about cruciferous vegetables and low thyroid function, it typically is not a reason to avoid eating these food and generally there are more benefits than downsides. Unless you are struggling with chronic hypothyroidism, you can still eat these foods in moderation, but would want to avoid juicing or eating them raw regularly.