Discover the 4 shocking health benefits of sulforaphane.
Sulforaphane is associated with several health benefits, especially at the cardiovascular and brain level. Do you want to know more about it?
Sulforaphane is a compound found in some vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, or kale.
It is a type of isothiocyanate that is primarily responsible for the health benefits of cruciferous consumption.
In particular, it stands out for having anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial properties.
It is also believed to help prevent cardiovascular disease, some types of cancer, and autism. What does science say about it? Here are all the details.
Sulforaphane is a sulfur compound from the group of isothiocyanates. Cruciferous plants are one of its main sources, in the form of glucoraphanin. This last molecule is deactivated.
For it to break down into sulforaphane, the action of the enzyme myrosinase is necessary, which is activated when the plant is cut, grated, beaten, or chewed. Also, some bacteria in the intestine are capable of doing this.
Glucosinolates such as glucoraphanin exert a protective role in the plants where they are found. They are a protective barrier against pathogens and herbivorous organisms.
Meanwhile, in the human body, one of its main functions is to activate the expression of the NRF2 gene, involved in more than 200 different bodily functions.
In turn, it is responsible for expressing proteins with repairing, antioxidant, detoxifying, or cellular protective activity.
Sulforaphane is mainly found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli.
For several years, scientists have focused on the possible positive health effects of sulforaphane.
And although it is necessary to deepen the investigation, some of them can be detailed.
On numerous occasions, a high intake of cruciferous vegetables has been linked to a lower incidence of cancer.
This activity is largely derived from the presence of isothiocyanates, among which sulforaphane stands out.
As Su, Jiang, Meng, and other authors point out, the mechanisms involved are various.
The result is the inhibition of tumor growth and the activation of apoptosis (death of cancer cells).
Similarly, due to the antioxidant activity, it is possible to stop DNA damage, mutations and inflammation.
These actions are what allow us to think of sulforaphane as a chemopreventive agent in some types of cancer (bladder, cervical, breast, lung, prostate, or colon). It could also improve the effectiveness of a commonly used chemotherapy drug.
However, it is necessary to bear in mind that most studies have been carried out with extracts of sulforaphane.
In addition, the effects have been tested on animals. Therefore, the possible positive effect on humans is unknown.
Cardiovascular diseases are a major cause of mortality and morbidity in many countries of the world.
Because of this, ways to reduce its impact and improve the quality of life of those affected have become a public health issue.
About this, sulforaphane has aroused some interest, since its antioxidant activity is beneficial.
Studies in both humans and animals have shown a protective effect against hypertension, arteriosclerosis, or diabetes. Therefore, it is believed that it could protect against heart disease.
The journal of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States published a study to evaluate the use of sulforaphane as a treatment in autism spectrum disorder.
The results show an improvement in the behavior of those affected.
This advance would be related to a protective activity against oxidative stress, inflammation, and DNA damage. However, more research is needed to corroborate this.
This has been another of the research fields that have made it possible to evaluate the ability of sulforaphane to activate different protective responses that could prevent neurodegeneration.
Thus, it would improve memory and prevent diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, or multiple sclerosis.
Initially, the intake of cruciferous vegetables that provide sulforaphane is safe and suitable for all people. This is so as long as there are no allergies, intolerance, or digestive problems after eating them.
On the other hand, when it is taken in the form of a dietary supplement, there may be some drawbacks.
The most common are gas, diarrhea, or constipation.
In addition, it must be borne in mind that there are no studies to verify the safety of this compound after prolonged intake or large doses.
For this reason, sometimes it is better to avoid them or consult a doctor before ingesting them.
This is the case of pregnant and lactating women and people who have illnesses or are undergoing medical treatment.
As discussed, sulforaphane can also be found as a dietary supplement. Its most common presentation is in the form of tablets or powder, almost always made from broccoli or broccoli sprouts.
In this case, these are products with a much higher amount of sulforaphane than that found in vegetables.
Glucoraphanin is its precursor and is also available in capsule or tablet form. It is usually accompanied by myrosinase, an enzyme necessary to activate it and promote the appearance of sulforaphane.
Initially, there are no amounts and dosages established as safe. For this reason, it is advisable to follow the instructions of each manufacturer and always consult a specialist.
In its natural form, sulforaphane is present in the following vegetables:
The best way to obtain sulforaphane is through foods that provide it naturally. However, these must be eaten raw.
Some of the positive compounds in foods can be destroyed or modified in the cooking process. This is the case for some vitamins or lipids. And also from sulforaphane.
The highest sulforaphane levels are found in raw foods. However, sometimes it is difficult to eat crucifers without applying some type of cooking.
Luckily, there are some great tips and practices out there to prevent it from completely degrading.
The best way to cook all these vegetables is steamed; specifically between 1 and 3 minutes.
Boiling and all long methods with high temperatures should be avoided.
Also, all foods that contain myrosinase (activator of sulforaphane) are good companions for broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and all crucifers. This compound is present in mustard seeds, for example.
Sulforaphane in cruciferous vegetables may have positive health effects
Sulforaphane is a molecule that is present in some vegetables of the cruciferous family.
In recent years, it has aroused the interest of scientists for its antioxidant properties and its protective effect against some diseases.
The best way to take advantage of all its health benefits is to include cruciferous vegetables in your daily diet.
Likewise, it is essential to accompany them with the intake of other varied vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
This is because all molecules with positive effects complement each other in their actions.
Thus, a healthy diet and lifestyle are what promote long-term well-being and quality of life.