Even though not many people like it, we’re all aware of the health benefits of broccoli. The cruciferous vegetable contains a variety of nutrients which can significantly improve our overall health. Furthermore, it is rich in sulforaphane, a rare compound that, according to studies, has the ability to fight cancer. However, broccoli sprouts may even be more powerful than the veggie itself – according to a recent John Hopkins University study, the level of sulforaphane in broccoli sprouts is way higher than an average vegetable.
Sulforaphane can activate the body’s anti-cancer defenses and reduce the risk of the disease. While examining broccoli’s anti-cancer properties, Dr. Paul Talalay and Dr. J.J. Abe found out 3-day old broccoli sprouts have 20-50 times the amount of sulforaphane than an average head of broccoli, which makes them the better anti-cancer agent. Dr. Talalay conducted a study in which he fed female rats with cancer broccoli sprouts extract for 5 days, and the results have been stunning. The rats that were given the extract had far smaller tumors than the other group, which means that the compound has powerful chemo-protective properties.
Based on earlier studies, the John Hopkins study group focused on examining natural anti-cancer agents from plants that can stimulate Phase II-detox enzymes in the body. These enzymes can neutralize cancer-causing substances before they damage our DNA and trigger the development of cancer cells. Among the many agents tested, sulforaphane provided the best results. The study also discovered that broccoli contains glucoraphanin, a precursor to sulforaphane which can stop the cancer cells from growing and spreading.
Additional tests showed that the levels of glucoraphanin in broccoli vary, so there’s really no way of telling which broccoli head contains the most of it. Furthermore, Dr. Talalay also says that even if the vegetable can help against cancer, we need to eat an astounding amount of it so it can be effective. Other studies have been conducted to see how much broccoli sprouts we should eat in order to boost our sulforaphane levels, but so far, the results have been inconclusive.
Still, the early results are promising, and according to Dr. Talalay, they are now trying to use the compound to produce a cancer cure. At the moment, the team is focusing on developing new ways of detecting and treating cancer by dietary means, and the prevention of the disease as well. It may take some time, but the results are certainly promising.
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