As many of us know, broccoli has somewhat of a bad reputation among children. Broccoli was the staple food of our overall rebellion against all foods green in color when we were kids. But as adults, we realize that Mom wanted us to eat broccoli because it is packed with a number of vitamins and nutrients that do wonderful things for our health. And just when we thought broccoli couldn’t possibly be more of a super-food, research over the past couple of decades has proved otherwise.
Broccoli Sprouts --- Better Than Broccoli?
A number of studies have shown that broccoli sprouts --which are three to four-day-old broccoli plants -- have unique health benefits. These remarkable baby sprouts provide a number of serious health benefits across a range of areas.
So, even if you never managed to acquire a taste for broccoli even in your adult years, you can now rest assured that your body can get all those miracle nutrients in the form of a sprout.
Let’s explore what research claims to be the top 7 health benefits of broccoli sprouts.
1. Chemicals found in broccoli sprouts decrease our risk of contracting a number of different types of cancer
Broccoli sprouts have been the focus of several studies over the past couple of decades due to the presence in high quantities of a molecule called sulforaphane. In 1992, Dr. Paul Talalay and his team of researchers out of John Hopkins University discovered the link between this important compound and its effect on reducing cancer risk.
Since then, numerous studies have taken this research further, focusing on a variety of types of cancer.
From colon cancer to breast cancer, scientists have consistently come to the unanimous decision that sulforaphane has cancer-fighting capabilities.
A recent study in 2012 headed up by Emily Ho took earlier research a step further by showing that sulforaphane also influences the functioning of our genetic code, which is affected and manipulated through the foods that we consume. Sulforaphane works to keep our genetic code in balance, and this helps to lower our risk of developing cancer.
2. Broccoli sprouts have been shown to reduce abnormalities associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder
A study published just last year has led to some interesting possibilities about sulforaphane ingestion as a treatment for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Paul Talalay, in one of his many studies involving this compound, along with Andrew Zimmerman from the University of Massachusetts Medical School, were able to show a correlation between Autism patients who received doses of sulforaphane and an improvement in certain behaviors associated with Autism, such as human interaction and verbal communication.
3. Eating of broccoli sprouts can improve blood pressure
In 2012, doctor Bernard Juurlink and his team of researchers published a study in which they concluded that sulforaphane administration lead to a decrease in blood pressure as compared to no sulforaphane administration.
Furthermore, the sulforaphane administration was also associated with alleviating symptoms associated with high blood pressure.
This is especially important in the United States, where millions of people suffer from high blood pressure levels that have serious health consequences.
4. The compound sulforaphane found in broccoli sprouts protects against eye damage
Research out of John Hopkins University has extensively studied the effects of sulforaphane induction on the prevention of oxidative damage in the retina. Oxidative damage, caused in part by extensive exposure to UV-rays, can lead to macular degeneration, a medical condition correlated with age that is the leading cause of blindness among the elderly.
In a 2004 study headed up by Xiangqun Gao and Paul Talalay and published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, researchers focused on the natural ability of sulforaphane found in broccoli sprouts to activate a gene in the retina which acts as an indirect “antioxidant” protector.
These “antioxidants” inhibit the macular degeneration process.
A similar study 9 years later lead by researcher Liang Ye additionally concluded that sulforaphane induction correlated with a decrease in oxidative stress levels in the retina.
5. Eating broccoli sprouts has been shown to decrease levels of unhealthy cholesterol while increasing levels of healthy cholesterol
A study published in the medical journal Biofactors in 2004, researchers concluded that the consumption of broccoli sprouts correlated with decreased overall cholesterol levels in the patients, while at the same time increasing levels of HDL cholesterol, also known as “the good cholesterol”.
This study, headed up by Megumi Murashima, made a sweeping conclusion that broccoli sprouts not only improved cholesterol metabolism but also decreased oxidative stress markers in patients.
In 2010, Dr. A.M. Kivela and other scientists from the University of Finland reconfirmed the results of the 2004 study, claiming that sulforaphane induction in patients showed a positive increase in HDL cholesterol levels and a decrease in bad cholesterol levels.
6. Compounds found in broccoli sprouts may help combat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
One of the leading causes of deaths in the United States, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) affects the victims ability to breath properly. In a 2008 study, a team of researchers from the John Hopkins School of Public Health concluded that oxidative stress is a leading cause of COPD. The conclusions of this study lead Dr. Shyam Biswal and Robert Wise to carry out a study in order to determine the effects of sulforaphane induction on the body’s macrophages’, or cleansing cells, ability to function properly.
The functioning of these cells is especially important in patients with COPD, as macrophages remove bacteria and prevent infection in the lungs.
Dr. Shyam and his team concluded that the compound sulforaphane found in broccoli sprouts successfully activates a molecule that alleviates oxidative stress and therefore reduces the possibility of malfunctioning macrophages. COPD patients who consumed broccoli sprouts for 2 weeks showed improvements in their body’s ability to combat the effects of COPD.
7. Broccoli sprouts have been shown to prevent stomach-related tumors.
Dr. Paul Talalay from John Hopkins University was able to show that the sulforaphane found in high doses in broccoli sprouts is capable of killing the bacteria that causes ulcers, as well as some gastric cancers. In 2002, a study by Jed Fahey and a team of researchers concluded definitely these same findings. By killing the bacteria known as helicobacter pylori, sulforaphane is effectively able to prevent stomach ulcers in humans.
These are just 7 reasons why you should make broccoli sprouts a important part of your diet. By increasing your consumption of this sprout, with contains up to twenty times more sulforaphane than mature broccoli, you will be helping your body to fight stomach ulcers, retina degeneration and even cancer.