Broccoli Sprouts: The Magic Wonder-food You’re Missing out on
If you’re like us, you probably had a mom that was constantly telling you to eat your broccoli. But why broccoli? All veggies are good for you, right? Right! No arguments there. But when it comes down to bang for your buck and which veggies have the most nutrients to do the most good, one category rises above.
No, that’s not an era when dinosaurs ruled the earth. Cruciferous is the name of the category of veggies that includes most of your leafy, bitter, and fibrous green veggies. These include cabbage, brussels sprouts, kale, bok choy, kohlrabi, romanesco, broccoli and cauliflower. Of the cruciferous veggies, the broccoli family is the most nutritious, and of the broccoli family the dark green italica broccoli that you’re most used to, is actually the best of the best. But even better than the best? Their young, super nutritiously-concentrated sprouts.
What are Broccoli Sprouts?
Broccoli sprouts are what they sound like. They’re the baby, extremely young broccoli, recently sprouted. So… they’re just cuter broccoli? Not really. They’re actually one of the healthiest plant compounds on earth, with off-the-chart concentrated levels nutrients that have been proven to provide many nutritional benefits from anti-aging, treatment of depression, autism, lung failure, and even preventing cancer.
How and why is it different than regular broccoli?
So… if the sprouting broccoli has this, shouldn’t the adult broccoli? Nope. Just like humans, things change pretty drastically from the time you’re a sprout to a full-grown adult. Here are just some of the differences:
Sprouts contain up to 100 times more chemoprotective compounds than fully grown broccoli.
Sprouts lack the Vitamin A, C, and E of adult broccoli, which is why you’ll never hear anyone say to replace broccoli with broccoli sprouts. Both play a role in overall health.
Most importantly, broccoli sprouts are an excellent source of glucoraphanin. When eaten this creates a compound, sulforaphane, called which detoxifies the body from pollutants.
What’s the science of sulforaphane?
Firstly, sulforaphane is not in broccoli sprouts, but is created when the plant fibers containing glucoraphanin are torn (via teeth, blender, knife, etc). Creating this compound is actually the plant’s genetic response to protect itself, repair itself, and guard itself from insects and bacteria so that it can heal.
When we ingest it, turns out, it’s just as good for us.
Why? Well, it turns out this compound sulforaphane has a huge effect on inflammation in our systems from digestion to nervous system to blood flow.
How does it do this? By unlocking the NRF2, a vital pathway to over 200 of our genes. This pathway in our body should biologically be open and working, but in much of the modern world, with our current air and food systems, pollution, stress, and lack of physical exercise, this pathway is limited and underfunctioning. [Super into science, read ScienceDirect’s article on the NRF2 pathway here.]
Sulforaphane is the only plant compound on earth that has been proven to open this pathway.
What are the benefits of Broccoli Sprouts? (Sulforaphane/NRF2 opening)
The NRF2 pathway is one of the most important pathways for anti-aging genes, anti-inflammatory genes, lowering oxidated stress, detoxifying carcinogens.
The sulforaphate found most highly in broccoli sprouts has been shown to:
- lower inflammatory markers by 20% (helping with digestion and anti-aging)
- naturally lower triglycerides by 20% in the blood and lower blood pressure, which helps you maintain a strong and healthy heart.
- protect the body from osteoporosis.
- protect the stomach lining from damage.
- reduce or eliminate type 2 diabetes when combined with a whole-foods diet.
- be as effective as prozac in treating depression.
- drastically remove harmful toxins from the lungs and improve respiration. In fact previous or current smokers could drastically reduce their likelihood of lung cancer by eating broccoli sprouts 4 times a week.
- slows the doubling rate of prostate tumors by 86%.
- lowers risk of bladder, ovarian, prostate, breast, kidney, and cervical cancers.
- improve the brain function in autistic adults by 34%
- reduce the risk of breathing in benzine (found in air pollution and cigarette smoke)
How should you eat them?
Any way that the plant fiber gets broken down, and then eaten raw is good! Obviously adding them to raw salads, breakfast smoothies, soups or sauces.
Don’t forget to eat mature cruciferous veggies too! Raw kale, turnips, cabbage, arugula, and watercress are known to be high in vitamins and minerals and have moderate amounts of sulforaphane as well. However, sulforaphane does die out when exposed to heat, so you will lose those benefits when steaming, roasting, or sauteeing.
Does that mean you should stop eating steamed broccoli? Absolutely not. Raw broccoli, and many other raw cruciferous veggies are very hard for the body to break down, which is why we steam them in the first place. They’re full of Vitamin A,C,E and other anti-oxidants that are increased when steamed! So, continue eating steamed and roasted cruciferous veggies, just know you’re not getting the NRF2 pathway from those, and you should add those raw broccoli sprouts to your life.
Where can I buy broccoli sprouts?
You can find broccoli sprouts in almost any natural food store including Whole Foods, Sprouts, Mother’s Market. Just pay attention to how long they’ve been on the shelf. Raw sprouts are more likely to develop fungus like ecoli, if out too long.
You can also sprout your own for much much cheaper, which is what we recommend! Buy a pound of seeds and sprout them in a mason jar!