Sometimes, powerful health boosters come in small packages. This is very true in the case of broccoli sprouts. Broccoli sprout benefits have gone largely unknown for decades because they weren't given much attention from a nutritional standpoint. This changed in 1997 when the public was made aware of the broccoli sprout benefits associated with eating it.
However, since they're not as readily available as traditional broccoli, you may be tempted to pass and overlook them. We're going to outline nine broccoli sprout benefits that may just change your mind below.
Broccoli sprouts are three to four-day-old broccoli plants. They look a little like alfalfa sprouts, but they have a slightly bitter taste that is reminiscent of radishes. You can cook them, but cooking them destroys a lot of the essential nutrients because of the heat. A lot of people choose to eat them raw mixed into things like salads or for a fresh side dish.
They're relatively easy to grow and maintain. You can find them boxed in your produce section in most grocery stores. You may have to do a little digging to find them at first. But, they're common because they're a popular health superfood.
Cruciferous vegetables including broccoli and broccoli sprouts come packed with a compound known as sulforaphane. This is a very unique compound that has the ability to stimulate your phase two liver detoxification system. This is extremely important because this pathway is the last part of the removal process for excess estrogen, detoxification products and harmful compounds. There is 10 to 100 times more sulforaphane in broccoli sprouts than you find in adult broccoli. Eating just one or two servings a week can help boost your levels. (1)
Broccoli sprouts also have immune-boosting features. It can help support your respiratory, cardiovascular and skeletal systems. Additionally, it can help fight infections and protect your brain. The sulforaphane in broccoli sprouts is able to do this via epigenetics. Epigenetics is a relatively new science that studies how you can make genetic changes through diet and lifestyle changes. Sulforaphane directly influences how your DNA functions, and this can boost your disease fighting capabilities. (2)(3)
Broccoli sprouts have dozens of health benefits, but we've picked out the top nine. We'll outline each one and back it up with scientific studies so you can see why you should incorporate them into your diet.
Estrogen dominance is a condition where you have an overload of estrogen in your body. It also means that your body doesn't metabolise estrogen as it should. This condition can increase your chances of miscarriages, breast cancer, fibrocystic breasts, PMS, cellulite and endometriosis. Luckily, sulforaphane can help flush the excess estrogen out of your body by activating the phase two liver detox system we mentioned earlier. It can also improve how receptive your estrogen receptors are to the estrogen in your body. (4)
One study showed that the levels of sulforaphane can help regulate your hormone levels and reduce the amount of estrogen present in your system. The study took 34 women and split them into groups. One group continued with their regular diet, one group added two servings of broccoli sprouts per week and the final group ate two servings of broccoli sprouts per day for four weeks.
At the end of the study, they found that the group that ate two services of broccoli sprouts a day had significantly reduced estrogen levels over the control group. The group that ate two servings a week also had improved estrogen levels over the control group. (5)
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease where the cartilage in your joints breaks down over time. This can cause painful bone-on-bone grinding instead of the smooth gliding motion you typically get. As the cartilage breaks down, you get swelling, inflammation, pain and tenderness. It can get worse if you do activities that put a lot of stress on the joints. (6)
One study took 24 volunteers with osteoarthritis and split them into two groups of 12. Group A ate a 30 gram serving of broccoli sprouts while group B ate 60 grams. They tested the participants' urine for inflammatory markers that are present with osteoarthritis before and after the trial. They found that both groups had reduced inflammatory biomarkers, but group B had a significant reduction. (7)
A second study involving mice proved that epigenetics play a role in osteoarthritis development and prevention as well. Researchers found that mice that got broccoli sprouts in their diet stimulated the epigenetic layer to prevent the formation of osteoarthritis in the first place. This was due to the sulforaphane content. (8)
Broccoli sprouts have anti-cancer effects, especially concerning breast cancer. One way they do this is by stimulating the production of pro-carcinogens in phase one. However, they then stimulate phase two to flush these carcinogens out of your body. (9)(10)
A human study took 54 women with abnormal mammograms and split them into two groups. One group got a placebo, and one group got a higher dose of sulforaphane. At the end of the eight-week trial, researchers measured tissue biomarkers via biopsy to check for indicators of cancer. They found that the group of women who got the sulforaphane had more benign tissue than the placebo group. (11)
An animal study involving mice showed researchers that the sulforaphane in broccoli sprouts can actually stop the growth of breast cancer stem cells. It indicated to the scientists that people could use broccoli sprouts to protect against breast cancer development. (12)
The sulforaphane in broccoli sprouts has an inhibiting effect on the stress's inflammatory response and on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) area of your brain. This area is your central nervous system, and it's the system that is impacted the hardest by stress. Because it inhibits these areas, your body reduces the amount of corticosterone in transmits. In turn, your anxiety levels drop and your depression lifts. (13)
One animal study involving mice showed that adding sulforaphane to the mice's diet significantly reduced their depression and anxiety levels. Researchers gave mice 10 milligrams of sulforaphane per 10 kilograms of body weight and monitored them. They also found that the inflammation levels were significantly reduced by the end of the study. (14)
Another collection of studies showed that sulforaphane played a vital role in the Nrf2 activation. When Nrf2 was activated, it greatly reduced anxiety and depressive symptoms across several studies. Multiple animal trials brought about the same results. The animals that received the sulforaphane were more relaxed, less anxious and more active. (15)
When a woman is pregnant, anything that negatively impacts her body can negatively impact her unborn child. However, eating broccoli sprouts during pregnancy can significantly decrease the chances of the baby being born early or experiencing problems.
One study involving mice showed that ingesting sulforaphane during pregnancy can trigger the Nrf2 genetic expression before your baby is born. This study showed that it could potentially increase your baby's protection against toxins by strengthening the placental barrier. In turn, there is a higher chance of carrying your baby to full term. (16)
Another important study showed that pregnant women who eat at least four cups of broccoli sprouts a day can potentially reduce their child's chances of developing deadly breast cancer later in life. The study showed two models side by side and found that the model that got the sulforaphane had a much lower risk of breast cancer than the other model. (17)
You have Dihydrotestosterone naturally in your body. This is a sex hormone and an endogenous androgen sex steroid. As long as you have balanced levels, you won't have a problem. However, an overabundance of this sex steroid can cause a variety of issues including hair follicle regression and generalised hair loss. (18)
Sulforaphane has properties that work to effectively break down dihydrotestosterone and prevent hair follicle regression and hair loss. One study involving mice split them into two groups and followed them for six weeks. One group got administrations of 10 milligrams of sulforaphane per 10 kilograms of body weight, and the other group got nothing. They found that the mice who got the sulforaphane had higher hair regeneration levels and lower levels of dihydrotestosterone. Researchers found that the sulforaphane blocked dihydrotestosterone's ability to suppress hair growth. (19)
Weight loss can be a struggle, especially if you have unbalanced gut bacteria or health issues. Sulforaphane activates Nrf2. When it does this, it prompts your systems to release a substance that improves how fat cells in your body consume energy. It can work to block the storage of excess fat, especially around your waist. (20)
A study involving mice showed that sulforaphane could help reduce the amount of weight they gain. They split the mice into two groups and fed them diets with a high fat content. One group of mice got a supplement of sulforaphane with their high-fat foods. These mice had 20% less fat around their waists and gained 15% less weight than the other group who got the exact same diet without the sulforaphane. (21)
A second study involving mice showed that taking sulforaphane could improve your gut bacteria levels and strengthen your intestinal lining. In turn, this can reduce inflammation and problems with your digestive system. It can also reduce the amount of H. Pylori bacteria in your digestive tract. (22) (23)
Broccoli sprouts can have a positive effect on your heart health in a variety of ways. Eating broccoli sprouts every day allow their high levels of sulforaphane to go to work on your entire cardiovascular system. An animal study with rats showed that if the rats got sulforaphane each day along with their normal diets, it lowered their blood pressure levels. The sulforaphane worked to stop a process called DNA methylation. This process has links to hypertension. (24)(25)
Broccoli sprouts can also help with a serious heart injury called myocardial reperfusion. It's common for this injury to occur after you suffer from a heart attack and physicians perform a percutaneous coronary intervention. Physicians use it to widen your arteries right after a heart attack to stop any further damage. It results in oxidative stress, and sulforaphane works to stop it. (26)
Broccoli sprouts are good for your respiratory system as well. Both human and lab studies support these findings. They've found that eating broccoli sprouts allows sulforaphane to help your lung cells get rid of any environmental toxins. These things have a history of contributing to respiratory illnesses, asthma and allergies. (27)(28)
One trial showed that sulforaphane can effectively reduce the levels of phase two enzymes in your upper airways. Participants had 200 milligrams of sulforaphane each day throughout the trial, and the control group got a placebo. At the end of the trial, the control group had higher inflammation and oxidative stress levels from these phase two enzymes. (29)
Another study involving mice found that ingesting sulforaphane limited the RSV virus' replication process and decreased the amount of oxidative stress present in the respiratory system. RSV is the most common cause of respiratory problems in young children and infants. (30)
Broccoli sprouts are a superfood that more and more people are starting to eat for the various health benefits. We've outlined the nine broccoli sprout benefits so you could see how eating them could improve your health.
If you think you could benefit from eating a few servings of broccoli sprouts a week, talk to your doctor. They can tell you whether or not this is a good idea for your lifestyle and health. If it is, we invite you to try it and feel the benefits for yourself!