6 Ways Broccoli Sprouts Fight Cancer
You probably already know that cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, cabbage, kale, broccoli and brussel sprouts are excellent foods compact with nutrients to prevent cancer. However, did you also know that their sprouted forms which are less than a few days old can actually pack a stronger punch in the fight against cancer?
Sprouts from the seeds of vegetables begin to germinate within days of being soaked in water. Numerous studies have found that the highest cancer protective properties are most concentrated in these sprouts at a time of 3 days following sprouting (6).
Making sprouts a daily part of your diet has not only been detected to reduce the incidence of numerous types of cancers, but the nutrients in sprouts may actually reverse the damage already created by the development of cancer in your body. (1, 3, 4, 5)
Sprouts Contain Powerful Antioxidants
Vegetable sprouts such as the more commonly known alfalfa sprouts, bean sprouts and radish sprouts are nutrient dense foods containing amazing antioxidant potential. Not all sprouts are created equal and the different antioxidant properties concentrated in sprouts help your body heal.
One of the most powerful cancer preventative nutrients found in cruciferous vegetable sprouts such as broccoli sprouts is glucoraphanin. Glucoraphanin is broken down during digestion and converted into a powerful antioxidant sulforaphane (SF). (2)
The antioxidant potentials of SF have the ability to influence and protect every organ in the body as long as its originating form, glucoraphanin, is consumed daily. Broccoli sprouts are the best source of this nutrient but it can also be found in kale and kale sprouts, cauliflower and brussels sprouts.
1. Sprouts Activate Antioxidant Pathways
Sulforaphane affects other processes in the body like a strong leader provides the tools and support for his team to reach a goal.
Studies found that a powerful antioxidant signaling gene referred to as NRF2 is dependent on the bioavailability of SF in the body (5). In other words, increasing sulforaphane in your diet is essential to the activity of many anti-inflammatory and cancer fighting responses. (5)
2. Sprouts Have Cancer Fighting Enzymes
- Quinone Reductase
- Glutathione S-Transferase
- Phase II Enzymes
3. Sprouts Improve Glutathione Levels
Cruciferous vegetable sprouts, particularly cauliflower and broccoli sprouts stimulate the production of glutathione (6). Glutathione is a super antioxidant involved in the cancer protective properties in every cell within the human body.
Glutathione has been coined with the term “master anti-oxidant” due to its essential role in maintaining exogenous anti-oxidants such as vitamin C & E in their active form (5, 6). Glutathione is like the cell’s security guard protecting the genetic equipment from outside attack.
It is estimated that each cell in the body withstands 10,000 hits by free radicals each day. Glutathione disarms these free radicals before they wreak havoc and cleans up the oxidative stress related damage that has occurred.
Sprouts are one of the greatest food sources of glutathione boosting nutrients. Consuming broccoli sprouts on a daily basis is one of the best things one can do to improve their glutathione levels and reduce oxidative stress.
4. Sprouts Are a Source of Quercetin:
Quercetin is a potent antioxidant found in fruits and vegetables known to prevent cancer. Quercetin is a type of flavonoid which is part of a diverse group of polyphenols giving plants their pigmentation. Sprouts are highly concentrated with quercetin and contribute to reducing inflammation, protecting cardiovascular function and detoxifying the toxic waste that oxidative stress creates in our cells. (1)
Quercetin is also intricately involved with preventing the spread of cancer. This powerful antioxidant blocks the signals which tell cancer cells to reproduce and spread. Furthermore, the presence of quercetin enables cancer cells to perform the process of apoptosis otherwise known as “cellular suicide”. (1)
5. Sprouts Have Antimicrobial Properties
Cruciferous vegetable sprouts have been used in ancient history for its use in medicines as antibiotics (1).
As glucoraphanin is broken down by myrosinase, an enzyme found in sprouts, SF is synthesized. A sulfur containing compound, SF has been extensively studied to contain natural protective properties which act as an antimicrobial agent in the digestive tract and other organs in the body (7). Some supplements such as our NrF2 Power and EstroProtect use glucoraphanin in a much larger, clinically impactful dosage. I use these to help down-regulate inflammation and improve hormone balance and gut flora.
6. Sprouts Improve the Gut Microflora
Specifically, the presence of SF inhibits the colonization of a bacterium known as Helicobacter pylori in the gastrointestinal tract. This bacterium is associated with inducing oxidative damage and disturbs the health of the gut microflora critical to protecting systemic or whole body, health and healing. As a result, gastrointestinal inflammation increases and is known to cause gastritis and increase the risk of developing stomach cancer. (5)
Consuming sprouts daily can not only decrease your risk of developing stomach cancer, but also intestinal and colorectal cancer (3, 5). Maintaining healthy gut microflora is essential to a healthy immune system required for reducing inflammation and reducing your risk of cancer.
Maximize the Benefits From Sprouts
How can you make sprouts a regular part of your diet and achieve eating up to 5 servings a week?
- Add sprouts to your salads, wraps, stir fry or make a refreshing sprout style slaw.
- Buy sprouts at farmers markets or trusted local farmers which grow their sprouts from high quality seeds. Environmental contaminants such as pesticide use degrade the potential cancer fighting compounds concentrated in sprouts (5).
- Avoid the contamination of mold in your cruciferous vegetable seeds when planning on growing your own sprouts by always buying from a trusted local source.
- The presence of other compounds containing sulfur enhances the antioxidant properties of sulforaphane (3). In combination with sprouts, try adding sulfur containing foods such as garlic to your diet.
- Quality may be more important than quantity. When you are choosing which vegetables to budget into your grocery expense, keep in mind that broccoli and cauliflower sprouts contain 10-100 times more glucoraphanin than does a mature head of broccoli or cauliflower (6). As always, a variety of vegetables including their sprouted forms are essential.
- Researchers have found that the anticancer properties of sprouts are undetectable following the discontinued consumption of sprouts after only two months (5). Eat sprouts daily for optimal cancer fighting properties.
Sources For This Article Include:
- Lozanovski VJ, et al. Pilot study evaluating broccoli sprouts in advanced pancreatic cancer (POUDER trial)- study protocol for a randomized controlled trial. Trials. 2014;15:204. PMCID: 4059031
- James D., et al. Novel concepts of broccoli sulforaphanes and disease: induction of phase II antioxidant and detoxification enzymes by enhanced-glucoraphanin broccoli. Nutr Rev. 2012;70(11):654-65. PMID: 23110644
- Zhang Y, et al. A major inducer of anticarcinogenic protective enzymes from broccoli: Isolation and elucidation of structure. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 1992 Mar;89:2399-2403. PMCID: 48665
- Tortorella SM, et al. Dietary Sulforaphane in Cancer Chemoprevention: The Role of Epigenetic Regulation and HDAC Inhibition. Antioxid Redox Signal. 2015 Jun;22(16):1382-1424. PMCID: 4432495
- Yanaka A, et al. Dietary Sulforaphane-Rich Broccoli Sprouts Reduce Colonization and Attenuate Gastritis in Helicobacter pylori-Infected Mice and Humans. Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2009 Apr;2(4):353-60. PMID: 19349290
- Fahey JW, Zhang Y, and Talalay P. Broccoli sprouts: An exceptionally rich source of inducers of enzymes that protect against chemical carcinogens. Proc Natl Acad Sci. 1997 Sep;94(19)10367-72. PMCID: PMC23369
- The OZ Blog Glutathione: The Master Antioxidant Link Here
- Dr. Mark Hyman: Essential Glutathione: The Mother of All Antioxidants Link Here