Your childhood was probably filled with memories of your parents always telling you to eat your greens, broccoli being one of the main greens that many children will scrunch their face at.
But…did you know that broccoli has many branches of super metabolites that can radically change your health?
Discover why your mom was right, and why you shouldn’t give up eating broccoli any time soon!
What’s the Deal with Broccoli?
Broccoli belongs to the cabbage family, part of a larger family called the Brassicas. The brassica family of cruciferous vegetables also includes common power greens including kale, Brussels sprouts, Swiss chard, and cabbage.
This group of vegetables contains phytochemicals that have high antioxidant activity called isothiocyanates.
Broccoli, however, goes one step further.
Broccoli is very high in vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin A, folate, vitamin B6, and manganese, and also contains sulforaphanes and indoles. These are also strong antioxidants, but they have the added benefit of detoxification, anti-cancer properties, and many other health benefits. The American Cancer Society even stands behind broccoli, recommending consumption to decrease risk of cancer.
Sulforaphane and Indoles
Broccoli’s therapeutic claim to fame is in its active ingredients: Sulforaphane.
These compounds are found in most cruciferous vegetables including cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and arugula.
However, broccoli sprouts are by far the richest source of sulforaphane. After consumption, sulforaphane will then break down into 2 even more powerful metabolites: indole-3-carbinol (I3C) and diindolylmethane (DIM).
I3C is also well known for it’s anti-cancer properties. It is used in other clinical scenarios, such as hormone balancing, as it is a phytoestrogen, detoxification, liver supporting, and immune supporting.
DIM is similarly known for anti-cancer and detoxification properties.
These compounds have been researched for its ability to help protect our bodies from free radicals, repair damaged DNA, and help protect against cancers including cervical cancer. This is why broccoli sprout extract is a key ingredient in Papillex.
Broccoli Metabolites and HPV
There are many studies supporting these broccoli metabolites and the management of HPV and HPV-related symptoms.
Epidemiological studies show that I3C supplementation may be beneficial in treating CIN and other conditions related to HPV. In a study, I3C supplementation showed even faster regression rates than the non-treatment group, even though the other subjects in the study who were not taking I3C had less HPV-positive findings.
Sulforaphane was shown to induce cell death and cervical cancer cells. It was able to accomplish this through the suppression of a certain gene (EZH2) activated by HPV, that is commonly targeted by cancer drugs. Broccoli can be so powerful!
DIM helps detoxify your body, which has general health benefits. Some early animal studies show that DIM can slow cervical dysplasia in mice.
So Broccoli Sprout, Anyhow, Anywhere?
Reaping the benefits of broccoli’s active ingredient is not as simple as taking any broccoli sprout supplement.
The body’s ability to take up nutrients, vitamins and minerals is called bioavailability and varies greatly from person to person and from nutrient to nutrient.
There are many things that influence how much of a given nutrient your body can absorb; its source, your gut microbiota, and other foods you eat alongside.
For example, some vitamins must undergo a chemical conversion in order to be activated while others might require the presence of dietary fats to be absorbed.
In the case of broccoli, the active ingredient sulphoraphane, must be first converted before it’s available for use.
Cruciferous vegetables store the precursor to sulphoraphane, a molecule called glucoraphanin, and only in the presence of an enzyme myrosinase is it converted into sulphoraphane.
Therefore, in order to get active sulphoraphane from our diet, a chemical reaction between the enzyme myrosinase and the precursor glucoraphanin must occur.
Raw vs. Cooked
You must be careful in cooking cruciferous vegetables. While the raw form of broccoli can have 10 times more sulforaphane than cooked broccoli, large quantities of raw cruciferous vegetables can become goitergens, harmful to the thyroid.
Flash steaming broccoli for 1-3 minutes at a medium heat is generally a good way to keep all those sulforaphanes, but also prevent harm to your thyroid.
Sprouts tend to be more easily digestible – a fun new addition to your salads!
Not All Supplements Are Created Equal…
Most of the nutritional supplements that are marketed as broccoli sprout extracts only contain glucoraphanin, and not the myrosinase enzyme necessary for the conversion to sulphoraphane.
While the bacteria in our gut can help with this chemical reaction, it is inefficient in many people, and therefore provides little benefit.
Papillex uses brassinase, a specialized broccoli powder extract that contains active myrosinase and sulphoraphane. This combination provides all the necessary building blocks to ensure the conversion to active sulphoraphane. Papillex guarantees its biovailability directly to your cells.
Ishita Ahuja, Jens Rohloff, and Atle Magnar Bones. Defence mechanisms of Brassicaceae: implications for plant-insect interactions and potential for integrated pest management. A review. Agron. Sustain. Dev. 2010 30(2):311-48.
Vermeulen M, Klöpping-Ketelaars IW, van den Berg R, Vaes WH. Bioavailability and kinetics of sulforaphane in humans after consumption of cooked versus raw broccoli. J Agric Food Chem. 2008 Nov 26;56(22):10505-9.
Schor, Jacob, ND, FABNO. “Broccoli: Alternatives to Eating It Raw.” Natural Medicine Journal. N.p., Oct. 2011. Accessed 20 June 2017.