We all know that broccoli is healthy, but most of us don’t eat it often enough. Some don’t like the taste, some find it hard to prepare, but did you know there’s an even more nutrient-dense form of broccoli you’ve probably never heard of? I’m talking about broccoli microgreens.
The health benefits of broccoli microgreens are unbelievable, considering their tiny size. They can contain up to 40 times the levels of nutrients by weight compared to adult broccoli.
What are broccoli microgreens? It is a phase in a plant’s life when it is between 10 and 14 days old. During this stage, sulforaphane (pronounced 'sull-fore-uh-fane'), one of the plant’s natural compounds peaks. Sulforaphane is nature's most potent known Nrf2 activator–which means it activates a biological process that actually creates antioxidant proteins in your body.
This compound is also present in a few other cruciferous vegetables like Bok choy, cauliflower, cabbage, and kale. However, broccoli is one of the foods highest in sulforaphane, particularly at the sprout and microgreen stages.
Let’s take a look at some of the health benefits of broccoli microgreens and sulforaphane.
1. Sulforaphane has anti-cancer properties
Many test-tube studies and animal studies have confirmed the anti-cancer properties of sulforaphane.
Sulforaphane works in several ways against cancer, including reducing the number and size of various types of cancer cells and making it harder for cancer cells to multiply.
Sulforaphane also facilitates the release of antioxidants and detoxifying enzymes that neutralize known cancer-causing elements such as benzene. It binds to a protein within the cells and, in the process, catalyzes the production of enzymes that help the cells resist toxic and carcinogenic substances.
Learn more about the 15 science-backed health benefits of sulforaphane.
2. Supports cardiovascular health
One of the major causes of cardiovascular diseases and complications is inflammation. Inflammation of the arteries can cause narrowing of the vessels leading to high blood pressure and hardening of the arteries.
Results from animal and test-tube studies suggest that sulforaphane contains anti-inflammatory properties. This compound activates a protein known as Nrf2 that prevents the endothelial cells (the cells that line your arteries), from triggering inflammation.
In a 2009 study commissioned by the British Heart Foundation Cardiovascular Sciences Unit, it was found that activation of Nrf2 may prevent or reduce atherosclerosis.
Learn more about Nrf2 and why you should be consuming them.
3. Broccoli sprouts have anti-diabetic properties
Sulforaphane has been found to alleviate the effects of diabetes, especially in people with diabetes who are obese or overweight.
One study examined the effect of sulforaphane in broccoli sprouts on people with Type 2 diabetes. The 97 participants were each given broccoli containing 150 µmol of sulforaphane daily. The study concluded that sulforaphane helped reduce blood sugar levels by as much as 6.5% and also improved blood sugar control.
4. Reduces the symptoms of autism
Broccoli, specifical sulforaphane, has recently been studied for its potential benefits to children with autism.
A study by Johns Hopkins University found that a daily dose of sulforaphane for four weeks improved behavioral and communication assessments in autistic children.
It has been observed that fever improves autism symptoms. Dr. Kanwaljit Singh, the lead researcher, explained that they came up with the idea of using sulforaphane to treat autism because of its ability to induce fever.
5. Anti-Aging Properties
Sulforaphane supports anti-aging by activating heat shock proteins in the body. Commonly referred to just as HSP27, heat shock proteins slow down the cell aging process.
Heat shock protein work against aging by mobilizing defenses that protect against cellular damage from ultraviolet light.
6. Boosts brain function
Studies have shown sulforaphane reduces mental decline and improves recovery after a brain injury. It has been proven to reduce depression symptoms and anxiety in animal studies.
A 2017 study concluded that sulforaphane, in conjunction with vitamin E, improved cognitive deterioration and reduced oxidative damage in baby mice that were exposed to lead.
Even though many of these studies were focused on animals, primarily mice, there are human studies currently underway.
Growing broccoli microgreens at home
Ideally, you can just buy broccoli sprouts and microgreens at selected grocery stores, but they also tend to be quite costly and are not always fresh.
Dr. Rhonda Patrick is a biomedical scientist researching the health benefits of broccoli microgreens advises growing your own broccoli sprouts and microgreens at home.
You can use either hemp bags or mason jars and water them two or three times a day. She insists on maintaining cleanliness during growth to avoid bacterial contamination.
At Microtea, it is our mission to provide you with teas and boosters packed with superfoods to fill the nutritional gaps in your diet. We do this by creating our products from microgreens – the stage in a plant’s life where nutritional value and density are at their peak. Don't think you can fit more veggies into your diet? Try adding a teaspoon of Broccoli Booster to your morning smoothie...one serving has over 300 microgreens that are 3rd party lab-tested to be Nrf2 activators.
What better way to enjoy all the nutrients and health benefits of broccoli microgreens, including sulforaphane, than with your morning or evening cup of Microtea!