Gut StuffNutrition Basics

The Tiny Sprouts That Pack a Serious Punch

By June 18, 2019 No Comments

Oddly enough it’s vegetables that bring out the best or the worst in people. Take broccoli for example. You’re either for it or fiercely against it. You either request extra broccoli with your meal or lie to your waiter and say you’re allergic to it. Even if the tree-like cruciferous veggie isn’t your jam, its precursor the broccoli sprout should be.

Scientists at Johns Hopkins made major waves in the early 90’s with their investigation of the specific anticancer compounds in full grown broccoli. Their findings concluded that a glucosinolate (a natural compound found in similar plants like cabbage and cauliflower) called sulforaphane was dramatically more abundant in the sprout than a mature broccoli. Sulforaphane in particular, according to The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods, “increase the excretion of the form of estrogen…linked to breast cancer… [and] stimulate the body’s production of detoxification enzymes and exert antioxidant effects.”

A head of broccoli contains this compound. How does eating two pounds of it per week sound? Not ideal? You could eat about an ounce of sprouts a week for a similar or superior cancer-fighting effect.

Multiple studies have shown that sulforaphane in broccoli sprouts also protect the stomach from Heliobacter pylori or H. pylori. While it may conjure up images of helicopter-flying bacteria, it’s a gnarly bug that can cause ulcers, gastritis, acid indigestion and even stomach cancer. You can find broccoli sprouts at your local health food store or co-op – but growing them yourself is pretty easy! Sprouts don’t stay fresh for very long and should be used within four days or so of purchase. Definitely did not know that when I added them to my eggs this morning – oops!

Just a note: big-daddy broccoli contains a lot of vitamins that sprouts do not, so include both in your weekly rotation. And supplements? They just aren’t as bioavailable as the whole food. So sneak sprouts into a veggie sandwich, add them to scrambled eggs, and keep those florets in the mix too.

Alexa Brynne

Author Alexa Brynne

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