Broccoli Sprout Benefits for Brain Health
Broccoli sprout benefits are numerous, and in part, come from a potent compound called sulforaphane. Sulforaphane easily crosses the blood-brain barrier where it can reduce the effects of toxins; this is a big reason why it is thought to protect neurons and the brain.
Broccoli Sprouts Versus Broccoli
Although broccoli is not nearly as good of a source of sulforaphane, there are a few ways to get more out of your broccoli. Logic would suggest the following tips will increase your sulforaphane from broccoli sprouts and other foods too.
How to Increase Sulforaphane from Foods
Add radish to increase sulforaphane: Adding Daikon radish helped the frozen broccoli form sulforaphane in the body.
Lightly steam your vegetables: no more than 2 minutes.
Don’t boil broccoli unless you add mustard seed: Boiled broccoli has no sulforaphane due to the high temperature of the water
Researchers found a way to prevent that problem: Add mustard seed to the water. For about a half pound (200 g) of broccoli, 1 gram of mustard powderincreased the body’s levels of sulforaphane by 4 times.
Eating it with meat increases absorption by 1.3 times (total isothiocyanate)
DIM in Broccoli and Broccoli Sprouts
Other broccoli and broccoli sprouts beneficial compounds are thought to help remove toxic hormones in the body.
These compounds, called indoles, including DIM, are best when you eat broccoli when it is raw. I wrote about indoles in one of my first blogs.
How Does Sulforaphane Protect the Brain?
Sulforaphane easily crosses the blood brain barrier where it can reduce the effects of toxins; this is a big reason why it is thought to be protect neurons.
Sulforaphane acts in many ways to increase a very potent cell protector in the body called Nrf2.
I’ve created an overview for you here because sulforaphane’s actions are so vast.
Overview of Proven and Potential Sulforaphane
Reduces blood pressure
Helps cholesterol reduction
Improves social interaction and personality traits
Reduces DNA damage
1. Sulforaphane reduces brain toxins
Sulforaphane helps the body detoxify airborne pollutants, pesticides and heavy metals, by activating the detoxification systems, mainly the Phase 2 enzymes in the liver.
2. Broccoli Sprout Extract Benefits Autism Symptoms
Here is what they found:
64% were much/very much improved by measures of autism symptoms at 30 weeks of supplements-double-blinded, randomized placebo-controlled trial that is ongoing.
Self-reported (parents) improvement in autism symptoms in a small trial.
Social responsiveness significantly improved and markers were identified related to response to treatment.
A double-blinded trial of 29 boys aged 13-27, receiving broccoli sprout extract resulted in improved behavior, communication and social interaction. Once they were taken off broccoli sprouts, behavior returned back to baseline.
Although the studies are small, all consistently found broccoli sprouts benefits and does not harm in the case of autism.
3. Broccoli Sprouts May protect the brain from Alzheimer’s disease
The other study showed that sulforaphane improved memory in Alzheimer’s disease.
A cell study found that broccoli sprouts reduced Aβ more than other vegetable sprouts such as red cabbage, broccoli, or buckwheat.
The reduction in this Alzheimer’s related protein was due to the modification in the Aβ protein.
4. Broccoli Sprouts Reduce Schizophrenia Symptoms
Schizophrenia is a disease that is often rapid and progressive in people, and usually develops in young adulthood. This debilitating disease affects more than personality and mood changes.
Function of memory and decline in daily functioning occurs as well due to brain shrinkage. Some experts suggest that schizophrenia is related to inflammation and autoimmune processes that are affected by food, lifestyle and environment (epigenetics).
Broccoli sprouts are an appealing option for potential reduction in schizophrenia symptoms. Here is the proof we have so far.
A pilot study in 10 schizophrenia patients found that broccoli sprout extract improved learning tasks over an 8-week period.
5. Broccoli sprouts may protect from stroke
Broccoli sprout protected the brain from stroke damage by preventing blood-brain barrier damage, slowed damaged area in the brain and reduced memory and nerve-related damage
Sulforaphane reduced damage to neurons and reduced neuron cell death in a model of stroke by activating the NrF2 pathway.
6. Broccoli sprouts and blood pressure
Blood pressure was lowered in patients with diabetes undergoing treatment for H.Pylori infections using 6 grams of broccoli sprout powder per day over 28 days. Inflammation also decreased in this double-blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled study.
7. Broccoli sprouts may reduce anxiety and reduce depression
Inflammation is a common marker in people with mood disorders, including anxiety and depression. Several studies up to this point show that reduction of inflammation through dietary and supplement approaches benefit these debilitating conditions.
8. Broccoli sprouts benefits nerve health and brain health
Most research is early, but very compelling in regards to broccoli sprouts benefits for nerve health.
9. Sulforaphane may improve memory
Sulforaphane has positive effects on brain function if you consider the previous studies I discussed about Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, and autism.
10. Sulforaphane may reduce Parkinson’s disease
Neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis don’t have proper activation of Nrf2 as a common problem.
Activated Nrf2 provides strong antioxidant activity within nerve cells.
Sulforaphane from broccoli sprouts potently activates Nrf2.
11. Broccoli Sprouts Reduce Cholesterol
High cholesterol is linked to brain dysfunction and damage. Broccoli sprout data is very promising for cholesterol. So far:
High-glucoraphanin broccoli reduced LDL cholesterol more than standard broccoli in a randomized trial in women with heart disease risk.
Broccoli sprouts lowered total and LDL cholesterol, increased HDL cholesterol , reduced triglycerides.
10 grams of broccoli sprout powder per day reduced triglycerides, oxidized cholesterol, and increased HDL-cholesterol in patients with diabetes.
Many experts now coin a term Type 3 Diabetes to describe the damages of high blood sugar on the brain. Broccoli sprouts hold a lot of promise to help protect the brain. Several studies find benefits as follows.
Sulforaphane reduced damaging effects of cholesterol on the pancreas and also improved the function of the energy-burning part of the cell called the mitochondria.
10 grams of broccoli sprouts per day reduced insulin resistance in 81 patients with type 2 diabetes.
Eating a sulforaphane-rich diet prevents memory impairment and increases the survival of neurons in diabetic rats.
Broccoli sprouts increased PPAR activity, which can improve glucose blood levels and cholesterol.
Bottom line: broccoli sprouts benefits may include protecting the brain from the damages of glucose.
13. May protect the brain by reducing atherosclerosis
The brain requires adequate blood flow and good circulation for proper function.
A diet that is rich in sulforaphane decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease. Various studies done on lab rats were promising for protecting and strengthening the heart.
Positive results were:
Atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, is linked to reduced memory and loss of brain function. Two rabbit studies were conducted to determine if sulforaphane would protect they heart. Here is what they found:
Reduced inflammation and hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis)
Restores blood vessel wall function
Reduced heart damage after infarction
Bottom line: broccoli sprouts benefits our cardiovascular system, including the vascular system in the brain.
Broccoli sprouts are antibacterial
Pathogenic bacteria are known to harm the brain. Preliminary results of broccoli sprouts benefits extend to our immune function.
Broccoli sprouts increase antibacterial enzymes in colon cells.
Sulforaphane reduced growth of 23 strains of harmful bacteria and fungus in cell culture.
How to use and supplement broccoli sprouts
Fresh broccoli sprouts are probably best, but can be hard to find. Eat them slowly and chew them up well!
Research studies use a wide range of dosing for supplements. They typically use between 500 mg-10 grams of broccoli sprout extract per day.
Look for supplements of broccoli sprouts that contain myrosinase for better absorption.
Broccoli Sprout Notes:
No known side effects exist for broccoli sprouts. They don’t have a negative effect on thryoid function, which has been a concern for some people with thyroid disorders.
Broccoli sprouts have a fairly small amount of vitamin K1 relative to deep green vegetables like kale. If you are on blood-thinning medications check with your healthcare provider before eating broccoli sprouts.
Growing Broccoli Sprouts
It is really easy to learn how to grow broccoli sprouts at home and it saves a lot of money. It does take a bit of time and attention, but it is well worth it to get the sulforaphane benefits.
Ball Mason Jars 1 Quart
Cheesecloth, tea towel or sprouting lid
Rubber band or mason jar rim if not using a sprouting lid
can also use a sprouting kit with stands
Bowl or baking dish
Organic broccoli seeds
Growing Broccoli Sprouts
Rinse the broccoli seeds in a colander, then place the seeds in your clean mason jar. Cover the seeds with a few inches of filtered water. Place the cheese cloth, tea towel, or sprouting lid on the jar. Then place the jar in a dark cupboard overnight or for 8 yours.
Drain off liquid and rinse the broccoli sprout seeds. Rinse the seeds at least 2-3 times a day. Turn that jar upside down and place it in your bowl or baking dish so that the seeds are moist but don’t sit in the water. Store at 60-70 degrees Farhenheit. Set your calendar to remind you to rinse the seeds because this is a key step for healthy sprouting.
Broccoli Sprouts Recipes
Need some recipe ideas of how to use broccoli sprouts? It’s simple! Add broccoli sprouts to any:
Vital Proteins Tropical Hibiscus Beauty Collagen
Where to Buy Broccoli Sprouts and Seeds
Health food stores sell sprouted broccoli if you aren’t in to growing your own.
Many online retailers also sell broccoli sprout seeds and supplements, such as:
Food to Live
Mum’s Sprouting Seeds Sprouting Kit
The Sprout House-certified organic broccoli seeds
Thorne Crucera-SGS – Broccoli Seed Extract for Antioxidant Support – Sulforaphane Glucosinolate
Brocsprout whole broccoli sprout capsules
KOYAH – Organic USA Grown Broccoli Powder
Broccoli sprouts benefits appear to be vast for brain health. It makes sense to eat broccoli sprouts several times a week and consider broccoli sprout supplements if eating them regularly isn’t realistic.
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