Broccoli Sprouts: The secret superfood you need to know about

Broccoli Sprouts: The secret superfood you need to know about

Broccoli sprouts are typically only 3- to 5-days-old when consumed, but they can provide even more nutrition than mature broccoli, ounce per ounce. Broccoli sprouts have an earthy, mildly spicy, radish-like flavor according to many, and they can be eaten fresh or cooked. You can add a bit more texture and crunchiness to your sandwiches, wraps or salads by mixing in some fresh broccoli sprouts. Children, on the other hand, often enjoy broccoli sprouts in stir-fries and curries. Just make sure to wash them thoroughly before eating them raw or using them for cooking. [3]

Compared to more mature broccoli, broccoli sprouts contain less of a sulfur-containing compound called S-methyl-L-cysteine sulfoxide (SMCSO), which is probably why they have a milder taste. According to a study published in the journal Toxicology Research, SMCSO is produced by cruciferous plants to defend themselves against microbial threats, so it makes sense that seeds contain very little of it. Because broccoli sprouts are only a few days old, they’re just starting to accumulate this sulfur compound in their roots and leaves. [4]

But that doesn’t mean broccoli sprouts are completely devoid of sulfur – they just have a much higher concentration of a different sulfur-containing compound. Glucoraphanin, which is converted to sulforaphane by either plant enzymes or the good microbes in your gut (depending on if you eat broccoli raw or cooked), is just one of many plant chemicals studies often credit for the health benefits of mature broccoli and broccoli sprouts. [5] 

Why eating Broccoli Sprouts is so good for your health 

Both mature broccoli and broccoli sprouts are well-known for their abundance of sulfur compounds called glucosinolates. These compounds and their breakdown products (metabolites) have been the focus of many studies for years, and nearly 200 glucosinolates have been identified by researchers thus far. But of these, only a subset is said to be present in the human diet. [6]

Because glucosinolates are primarily defensive compounds, albeit biologically inert, cruciferous vegetables naturally come equipped with enzymes that can convert glucosinolates into bioactive compounds. Myrosinase, the main enzyme responsible for hydrolyzing glucosinolates into their more useful metabolites, is normally stored within plant cells. [7]

When plant cells are damaged or destroyed, such as during an attack by an environmental threat, myrosinase is released and facilitates the conversion of glucosinolates into highly reactive metabolites. These metabolites, of which sulforaphane is one, are toxic to many microbial plant pathogens and insects but are highly beneficial for humans. 

Chewing on raw cruciferous vegetables or chopping them during cooking also allows myrosinase to freely convert glucosinolates into thiocyanates, isothiocyanates and other metabolites. These metabolites are then absorbed in your small intestine. And because these compounds possess a variety of health-supporting properties, they can support the healthy functions of several vital organs.

In contrast, glucosinolate conversion occurs through a different process when you boil cruciferous vegetables. Research shows that boiling inactivates the myrosinase in plant cells, so glucosinolates from boiled vegetables make their way intact to your colon, where they are metabolized by gut bacterial enzymes with myrosinase-like activity.

Keep in mind that boiling has also been found to reduce the glucosinolate content of cruciferous vegetables, even more so than steaming, stir-frying or microwaving them does. When eating mature broccoli and especially broccoli sprouts, you might want to avoid boiling them so you can get maximum benefits from their glucosinolate content.

According to studies, broccoli sprouts contain 10 to 100 times more glucoraphanin than mature broccoli. [8] Both glucoraphanin and its metabolite – the isothiocyanate sulforaphane – have many health-supporting biological activities, which is why the presence of odorous sulfur compounds shouldn’t deter you from consuming broccoli or even broccoli sprouts.

Another beneficial glucosinolate metabolite that you can get from broccoli sprouts is indole-3-carbinol (I3C). I3C is the breakdown product of the indole glucosinolate, glucobrassicin, and is known for its ability to support your body’s natural ability to detox. [9] Because glucoraphanin is the predominant glucosinolate in broccoli sprouts, you typically can get more sulforaphane than I3C from them.

But according to a study published in the journal Frontiers in Plant Science, the amount of glucobrassicin in broccoli sprouts still depends on their growing environment. For instance, the study found that exposure to blue light from the sun can increase the levels of I3C precursors in broccoli sprouts. [10]

Aside from these phytonutrients, broccoli sprouts are a good source of several important nutrients, so you’re not missing out on nutrition if you eat broccoli sprouts instead of their mature counterpart. According to data from the International Sprout Growers Association, an 84-gram (g) serving of broccoli sprouts can provide the following: [11]

  • Dietary fiber, 4 g
  • Protein, 2 g
  • Vitamin A, 10% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Vitamin C, 60% of the DV
  • Calcium, 6% of the DV
  • Iron, 4% of the DV

Broccoli sprouts are also a better source of vitamin K than mature broccoli, containing as much as 38 micrograms (mcg) per half-cup (85 g) serving compared to the 0.4 mcg in the same serving of broccoli. [12] Experts recommend eating about half a cup of broccoli sprouts every day to fully enjoy their health benefits. [13]

Here are some of the remarkable benefits offered by broccoli sprouts, as reported by science:* 

They support healthy brain function

In a series of recently published studies, Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers found that sulforaphane from broccoli sprouts can help you maintain healthy levels of chemical messengers (neurotransmitters) in the brain, particularly glutamate. [14] The most abundant excitatory neurotransmitter in the human brain, glutamate helps brain cells to communicate with each other and plays a role in supporting learning and memory. [15]

The Johns Hopkins researchers also found that in order to maintain balance and optimal nerve functioning, the brain normally stores extra glutamate in the form of glutathione. Glutamate is a precursor to glutathione, the “master antioxidant.” [16]

Because the brain consumes large amounts of oxygen to sustain its activities, it inevitably produces high amounts of reactive oxygen species. These free radicals, if allowed to accumulate, could damage or kill brain cells by causing oxidative stress. The presence of the antioxidant glutathione, which can neutralize these free radicals, is what protects brain cells from free radical damage.

According to the Johns Hopkins studies, sulforaphane can support the normal production of glutathione from excess glutamate in the brain, so consuming broccoli sprouts is an excellent way to maintain a healthy brain and optimal cognitive functions. 

They support healthy cardiovascular function

Research suggests that oxidative stress can cause abnormal heart rhythms, which could eventually lead to heart damage. But according to a study published in the Journal of Functional Foods, supplementation with potent antioxidants, such as sulforaphane from broccoli sprouts, can protect the heart from oxidative damage and support healthy cardiovascular function. [17]

A Canadian study published in the journal PNAS also reported that eating glucoraphanin-rich broccoli sprouts is good for your cardiovascular system because their antioxidant properties can support healthy blood vessel function. The protective effects of sulforaphane against oxidative stress can help you maintain healthy blood pressure levels that are already within the normal range. [18] [19] 

They support healthy digestive function

As an excellent source of dietary fiber, broccoli sprouts offer significant benefits for your digestive system. Dietary fiber not only supports healthy digestion and regular bowel movements, it also feeds the friendly microbes in your gut. [20] This means that eating fiber-rich foods like broccoli sprouts is a great way to support a healthy and balanced intestinal microflora.

According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition, sulforaphane from broccoli sprouts can also protect your small intestine from oxidative stress by supporting the activities of antioxidant enzymes. These beneficial enzymes are naturally present in your gastrointestinal tract. Because oxidative stress also disrupts normal intestinal function, the antioxidant protection provided by sulforaphane and antioxidant enzymes can help you maintain bowel regularity. [21] 

They support healthy immune function

The human immune system is made up of various components, including different types of immune cells and a vast array of immune proteins (e.g., antibodies). Because each of these components has an important function of its own, tight regulation of their activities is necessary to maintain optimal immune health.

When your immune system is functioning optimally, its response to threats is swift, precise and controlled. Failure to regulate immune responses often leads to serious health issues. [22]

According to a study published in the journal Molecules, sulforaphane from broccoli sprouts can help you maintain optimal immune function by supporting healthy immune responses. [23] Similarly, IC3 from broccoli sprouts has been shown to support healthy immune functions. [24] 

They support healthy liver function

The liver is your body’s primary organ of detoxification. It is responsible for regulating chemical levels in your body and removing toxins from your blood, among other things. [25] Like the brain, the liver is constantly under threat from reactive oxygen species, which is why high concentrations of enzymatic and non-enzymatic antioxidants can be found in the liver.

But because the liver is constantly exposed to harmful substances, it may require more antioxidant protection than your body can supply. This is when dietary antioxidants, such as sulforaphane from broccoli sprouts, comes in handy. Experts agree that getting high amounts of antioxidants from foods and supplements is a great strategy to protect and keep your liver healthy. [26][27]

A study published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition also reported that consuming glucoraphanin-rich broccoli sprouts can help you maintain healthy liver function. [28] 

They support strong and healthy bones and joints

As a good source of calcium and vitamin K, broccoli sprouts can help you grow and maintain strong bones. While calcium serves as the major component of your bones, vitamin K can help you maintain optimal bone mineral density. [29] Meanwhile, the sulforaphane from broccoli sprouts has been shown to support healthy bones. [30][31] 

They support healthy, glowing skin and hair

A study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry reported that sulforaphane from broccoli sprouts can help you maintain healthy, glowing skin. This is thanks to its potent antioxidant activities, which can protect skin cells from oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is a huge contributor to skin damage and the appearance of signs of aging. [32]

Meanwhile, a study published in the journal Cosmetics reported that sulforaphane can also support the growth of healthy hair by protecting hair follicles from an enzyme that causes them to shrink. [33] To maintain healthy skin and hair, consider adding nutritious broccoli sprouts to your daily diet. 

They support healthy energy levels and muscle recovery after strenuous exercise

Broccoli sprouts are a good source of protein, which your body uses for various functions, including energy production. Physically active individuals need lots of protein not just to build, maintain and repair muscles, but also as a source of energy.

Once the glycogen stored in your muscles is depleted in the late stages of prolonged exercise, your body starts breaking down protein for energy. In fact, experts say this provides about 15% of the energy your body needs. [34] This means that consuming nutritious protein sources like broccoli sprouts is a great way to support healthy energy levels during times of rigorous physical activity.

Another good reason why athletes and physically active individuals should regularly eat broccoli sprouts is because they contain high amounts of sulforaphane. Sulforaphane has been shown to support healthy muscle recovery after strenuous exercise by protecting skeletal muscles from oxidative damage. [35] 

Where to get gluten-free, lab-verified Broccoli Sprout products 

Broccoli sprouts possess a unique vitality. While in the process of development, the valuable minerals in broccoli sprouts bind to proteins, significantly enhancing their bioavailability. This gives broccoli sprouts an edge over fully grown broccoli in terms of providing nutrition. Remarkably, broccoli sprouts reach their pinnacle of nutritional potency while they’re merely 3 to 5 days old.

To let you experience the nutritional benefits of this potent superfood, the Health Ranger Store proudly offers Health Ranger Select Organic Broccoli Sprout Powder. Made with 100% organic broccoli sprouts from a trusted source, our premium broccoli sprout powder is brimming with not just essential nutrients but also beneficial phytonutrients, such as glucosinolates.

The glucosinolates in Health Ranger Select Organic Broccoli Sprout Powder can easily be converted inside your body into sulforaphane and IC3, which are powerful, health-supporting compounds that can help you maintain optimal brain, heart, liver, bone, joint, skin and immune and digestive functions.

Our high-quality organic broccoli sprout powder can easily be incorporated into your daily diet. Sprinkle it onto your favorite salads, add it to soups and sauces or enhance your post-workout shakes and smoothies with it. Alternatively, you can supplement your diet with our Health Ranger Select Broccoli Sprout capsules.

Crafted with the utmost care, our premium broccoli sprout capsules with organic broccoli sprout powder provide a convenient and reliable way to incorporate the amazing health-supporting properties of broccoli sprouts into your daily routine. These capsules are also meticulously prepared to retain the abundance of glucosinolates in organic broccoli sprouts.

Health Ranger Select Organic Broccoli Sprout Powder and Health Ranger Select Broccoli Sprout capsules are non-GMO, non-China and contain no gluten, artificial sweeteners, colors, preservatives or other additives. You can be sure that they are also thoroughly lab tested for glyphosate, heavy metals and microbiology.

Upgrade your lifestyle and enjoy optimal nutrition by incorporating nutritious organic broccoli sprouts into your daily routine! 

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose any diseases.