Updated: Dec 28, 2020
Broccoli Sprout Extract has been getting a lot of attention lately, and rightly so! While it’s been more recently studied for its health properties, it’s no stranger to the world of wellness. But don’t worry, this isn’t another blog post telling you to eat broccoli until you turn green, we’ll take you through the ins and outs of Broccoli Sprout Extract, answering your most commonly asked questions.
According to the National Cancer Institute, broccoli sprout extract has been defined as a vegetable extract that contains a high amount of sulforaphane in cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage and kale.
But wait, what is sulforaphane?
Sulforaphane is a sulfur-rich compound in an inactive state called glucoraphanin, a member of the glucosinolate family. An enzyme called myrosinase is required to convert glucoraphanin to sulforaphane. According to Dr. Jed Fahey from John Hopkins University, this conversion typically happens on the way down the tubes after chewing or consuming cruciferous vegetables. He presumes that probably more conversion happens when they reach the intestines. More research is required to fully determine exactly where this conversion happens.
Sulforaphane has been studied (mostly in rodents), for its potential to slow the growth of cancerous cells and potentially help to manage blood sugar levels in those living with diabetes. More details on the benefits of sulforaphane can be found in our “Benefits of broccoli sprouts and sulforaphane ” article.
Where does broccoli sprout extract come from?
Cruciferous vegetables contain sulfur-containing compounds called glucosinolates, which, when digested are broken down into different compounds, including sulforaphane. These compounds are responsible for its distinctive pungent aroma and sharp flavour. If like me, you’ve ever had a large amount of wasabi in one go and experienced that intense amount of ‘heat’ going up your nose, you’ve certainly had the pleasure (or displeasure?!) of these compounds breaking down in your body.
Sprouting broccoli has been shown to increase sulforaphane content compared to mature broccoli which is detailed further below. Not only is sulforaphane compound found in broccoli sprouts, but in kale sprouts as well!
Why are we excited about broccoli sprout extracts?
Over the past decade, new studies have been popping up looking at the effect of broccoli sprout extract and chronic conditions. While most of these researches have been on small sample sizes or animal studies, initial results are promising for its potential to treat and manage conditions like cell damage, schizophrenia, autism, and diabetes, among others. More studies are needed to show the (hopefully) full potential of this nutritious food.
What are broccoli sprouts?
First of all, it’s important to know what broccoli sprouts are. Essentially, they are immature broccoli plants, when the seed has been germinated and begins its growth period. Only water is required for Only water is required in the process of sprouting as the seeds already contain the vast majority of nutrients required for growth. Compared to mature broccoli, which is often eaten cooked, broccoli sprouts are enjoyed raw, or in powdered form.
Not only can sprouting help to increase the sulforaphane levels, but raw vegetables also have a higher sulforaphane content compared to their cooked counterparts. In this study, researchers explored the difference in sulforaphane content in mature broccoli and broccoli sprouts. What they found was that sprouting broccoli increased the sulforaphane content when compared to unsprouted broccoli by approximately 10 times. See below for the exact numbers.
Cooking and sulforaphane
Studies have shown that the enzyme, myrosinase , required to convert to sulforaphane, sensitive to heat. This means that normal cooking methods of boiling, steaming or pan-frying broccoli significantly reduces the concentration.
This is great news for sprout lovers as they are mostly eaten raw!
How much sulforaphane should we eat in a day?
There have not been enough studies to determine the ideal dose of sulforaphane. However, based on two different test tube (in-vitro) studies, the antioxidant response was seen at a dosage of 0.5mg of sulforaphane per kg of human weight and is more effective if taken in two different doses. This means that an average person who weighs 70kg will need to consume at least 35mg of sulforaphane to get antioxidant benefits. More research is required to accurately test and determine the dose, but these figures can be used as a rough guide for now.
Below are the concentrations of sulforaphane typically found in:
Raw mature broccoli ~44 - 171 mg/100g sulforaphane dry weight
Broccoli sprouts ~1153 mg/100g sulforaphane dry weight
Sprout powered SULFORAPHANE 236.1 mg minimum/100g sulforaphane
The figures are based on dry weight which means that the water content of the two samples has been removed to give an equal comparison. To work out exactly how much we should consume, we need to take into account the water content of broccoli and broccoli sprouts.
What this means is, for an average person that weighs 70kg to get 35mg of sulforaphane every day, he/she will need to consume:
Raw mature broccoli 200g to 775g/ 2 to 8 cups (1 cup is equal to 91g)
Broccoli sprouts 20 g
Sprout powered SULFORAPHANE 15 g
Where to buy broccoli sprout extract?
Naturally, broccoli sprouts would be the go-to solution to maximize one’s sulforaphane intake. However, growing sprouts at home come with its own challenges which can be laborious (rinsing the sprouts at least twice a day), not to mention the increase in the risk of contamination and E.coli. Buying fresh broccoli sprouts can be expensive and the short shelf life poses food waste issues.
This is where broccoli sprout extract powders like our Sprout powered SULFORAPHANE come in! They offer a very convenient, risk-free, and time-saving solution. What more? They have been formulated to be neutral-tasting by combining sprouted pumpkin seeds which give added benefits such as iron.
Whether you’re eating broccoli, broccoli sprouts or our Sprout powered SULFORAPHANE to meet your sulforaphane needs, we encourage that you consume them as part of a healthy balanced diet.
These blog posts are not intended to replace the advice or personalised information from a health professional. If you have further questions, or require personalised advice, please seek guidance from your doctor or dietitian.