While doing some reading this week, I was reminded of an incredible vegetable within the cruciferous family that is often forgotten. It is the best natural source of Sulforaphane, and given the time of year, with most people in detox mode (or needing to be!). This is one compound we should all be consuming more of.
The vegetable is Broccoli.
Specifically, we are talking about Broccoli sprouts, which contain 100 times more Sulforaphane than mature Broccoli heads. These little guys are pretty easy to grow in your kitchen, simply using a mason jar with a sprouting lid and some organic broccoli sprout seeds. I'll be posting our process for this very soon; but first, it's time for some nutrition nerding, to find out why you should care enough to start sprouting vegetables in your kitchen.
Sulforaphane is one powerhouse of a compound, which works on Phase 2 of the detoxification pathway. Phase 1 involves a chemical handle being attached to a toxin (1); Phase 2 is then where the handle is grabbed and pulled from the body (by way of the presence of Phase 2 enzymes and their activation of detoxification proteins). In this capacity alone, Sulforaphane has immense detoxification and cancer-fighting potential. On top of this Sulforaphane is also an incredibly powerful anti-oxidant; where something such as Vitamin C can only offer oxidation protection on a 1-1 basis, meaning once the Vitamin C has been used in the body the protection ceases. Sulforaphane on the other hand, is able to up-regulate every cell's ability to offer electrons to promote oxidation protection in the body, continually over a 48h period.
There are over 300 studies on Sulforaphane and Broccoli on PubMed; relating to a wide variety of health benefits. Including:
Oxidative Stress (2,3)
H-Pylori infection (4)
DNA Damage (10)
Depression and Anxiety (11)
As many progressive practitioners and researchers are now sharing, the majority of toxicants we're exposed to in the modern world up-regulate Phase 1 enzymes. In this Phase 1 state, toxicants are in-fact more reactive and more toxic to the body. This is where ensuring our diets are rich in Phase 2 regulating foods is so important.
An example of the dangers of up-regulation of Phase 1 enzymes, when Phase 2 enzymes are not present, is a chemical such as BPA. BPA is a plasticising agent that enters the body via your water bottle, canned food lining, and meat packaging (to name a few). It then activates the hydroxylase (Phase 1) enzyme 24-hydroxylase. Which interferes with the enzyme 24-hydroxy D (cholecalciferol - Vitamin D), forcing the body to degrade the Vitamin D enzyme in the body, making it unusable. See article (here) on Vitamin D, and why this hormone is so important to overall health.
Keeping a consistently high intake of Sulforaphane enable's antioxidant protection, and detoxification proteins to complete the Phase 2 detoxification pathway. Ensuring the body is able to be as efficient as possible at neutralising free-radicals and flushing out toxins; something increasingly important in an environment where the toxic load is continually growing. To achieve this, it is really as simple as eating 1/4 of a cup of Broccoli sprouts a day.
Stay tuned for a walk through on getting started with sprouting Broccoli sprouts at home.
Update: I had quite a few questions on my Instagram in regards to the process for growing these at home. If you saw my Instagram story you will have seen the first step, and today, the second step.
I realise the videos were a little ambiguous, so below are the step by step details for growing these little wonders in your kitchen! We'll be doing a full video or image set soon as well. Enjoy.
Home Grown Broccoli Sprouts:
- Add two tablespoons of Broccoli Sprout Seeds to a 1 litre wide mouth jar.
- Fill the jar so it is 3/4 full; alternatively you may also fill with water just until the seeds are fully covered. We prefer to fill the jar with more water as this allows the seeds to clean better on the first soak.
- Secure the top of the jar with a piece of circular cheesecloth and a tight rubber band. You can also use a sprouting lid; these can be purchased or made using an old jar lid and some gauze. Ultimately, what we need to achieve is a way to aerate the seeds and drain the water without losing the seeds.
- Gently spin the seeds a few times to ensure they are all fully soaked.
- Place the jar upright in a dark cupboard and cover with a towel. Leave overnight. We are looking for 10-12 hours or so of soak time.
- In the morning drain the water completely from the jar. Fill again with water, just enough to soak the seeds, and spin the jar to clean them again.
- Once complete, drain the water and store in a dark corner of your kitchen; place the jar upside down at an angle draining into another container. This ensures the seeds will continue to drain and help prevent moulding.
- Repeat the above two steps twice a day. Some recommend up to four times a day, but we find two is sufficient.
- After a few days the sprouts will begin to emerge. Once they are a few centimetres long and have light yellow leaves you can place them in a sunnier spot in your kitchen.
- Remember to keep rinsing the seeds twice daily and letting them drain. Be sure to watch for mould, throw the seeds away and start again if you encounter any mould in a batch.
- Depending on your climate, and the seed size, the sprouting will take anywhere from 4-10 or so days.
- Once the leaves are a darker green colour they are ready to eat!
- Move them into another jar with an airtight lid, or swap the lid on your current jar, and place them in the fridge. They will keep fresh for a few days in the fridge. Draining them well before placing in fridge will ensure freshness.
- Eating a 1/4 cup a day of these little beauties will help keep you the King or Queen of Phase 2 detoxification; happy and healthy!