Broccoli sprouts are packed full of nutrients and have many benefits for your health. Broccoli sprouts contain cancer-fighting phytochemicals (plant nutrients) such as sulforaphane and isothiocyanates. Broccoli seed sprouts also contain vitamins and minerals that are good for your heart, digestion, liver, and bone health.
Because it is very easy to sprout broccoli seeds at home, there is no trouble to eat more of these tasty sprouts every day. You can get the many benefits of broccoli sprouts by adding them to sandwiches or stir-fries, sprinkling them on salads, or mixing them in dips. However you decide to eat them, broccoli sprouts can help to strengthen your health.
In this article, you will learn why broccoli sprouts are so healthy for you. You will also find out what science says about broccoli sprouts in relation to fighting cancer.
What are Broccoli Sprouts?
Broccoli sprouts are small shoots that grow when broccoli seeds are germinated. Of course, broccoli sprouts will eventually grow into mature broccoli. However, research has shown that eating young broccoli sprouts has many health benefits.
It takes about 3 or 4 days for sprouts to appear from broccoli seeds. They look like alfalfa sprouts, and some people say they have a spicy taste similar to a radish.
According to doctors from WebMD, broccoli sprouts are the young broccoli plant before it matures. However, sprouting broccoli contains more concentrated health-boosting compounds.
Nutritional Value of Broccoli Sprouts
Like most sprouting seeds, broccoli sprouts contain some vitamins and minerals. However, it is the presence of the plant compounds sulforaphane and glucosinolates in the broccoli sprouts that makes them extremely good for your health.
A 2019 review on the nutritional value of broccoli sprouts found that they contain high levels of sulforaphane. This is a plant nutrient (phytonutrient) that belongs to a group of plant chemicals called isothiocyanates. Sulforaphane is also found in cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, kale, and broccoli. However broccoli sprouts contain high levels of sulforaphane. Scientific studies have found that sulforaphane may protect against various types of cancer, heart disease, and osteoporosis.
Another study found that broccoli sprouts contain compounds called glucosinolates that help rid the body of toxins. The study showed that chewing fresh broccoli sprouts releases glucosinolates which can help to provide the body with powerful antioxidants.
The compounds sulforaphane and glucosinolates in broccoli sprouts are important in cancer prevention as they help to limit the effect of carcinogens in the body.
Health Benefits of Broccoli Sprouts
Let’s look in more detail at the many reasons why eating broccoli sprouts is extremely good for you.
Broccoli Sprouts Have Anticancer Properties
Broccoli sprouts are known for their highly concentrated cancer-fighting compounds.
The interest in broccoli sprouts for potential use in preventing and treating cancer was sparked in 1997. Research carried out by Johns Hopkins School of Medicine found that 3-day-old broccoli sprouts contain powerful compounds that have cancer-protective properties. Sulforaphane and isothiocyanates from the broccoli sprouts were highly effective in the prevention and spread of certain tumors.
The Johns Hopkins’ study found that the anticancer properties in the extract of sprouting broccoli seeds were 10-100 times more than in mature broccoli plants. This means that small amounts of broccoli sprouts can be just as effective for cancer prevention as larger quantities of the mature broccoli plants. (7)
One study found that sulforaphane in broccoli sprouts targets cancer stem cells that are thought to be responsible for the development and spread of cancerous cells. In some cases, sulforaphane was used to increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy.
One 2018 review of studies said that cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, kale, and cabbage contain the anticancer compounds isothiocyanates and sulforaphane. However, broccoli sprouts have the highest concentrations of isothiocyanates and sulforaphane. Numerous experimental studies suggest that these plant chemicals can help to lower the risk of prostate, lung, colon, and breast cancers.
There are also promising results in using broccoli sprouts and sprout extracts in treating various types of cancer.
Broccoli sprouts and breast cancer
One lab trial found that a sulforaphane from broccoli and broccoli sprouts may help to inhibit the growth of cancer stem cells in breast cancer.
Although more studies on humans need to be carried out, researchers found that sulforaphane from broccoli sprouts is easily absorbed in the intestine. This cancer-fighting compound then gets distributed throughout the body.
Further reading: The Best Foods for Breast Cancer Prevention According to Science.
Broccoli sprouts and prostate cancer
A 2018 study on mice found that eating broccoli sprouts has the potential to prevent or delay the progression of prostate cancer. Scientists noted that sulforaphane was detected in the liver, colon, kidney, and prostate tissues of mice who consumed broccoli sprouts.
A review of the benefits of broccoli sprouts published in 2017 found that they have potential use in preventing or treating bladder cancer. Many studies point to the fact that broccoli compounds are potent inhibitors of cancer cells that can cause bladder cancer.
Studies have also found that compounds in broccoli sprouts can help to delay lung cancer caused by smoking tobacco. Treating cancerous cells with isothiocyanates and sulforaphane had a chemo-preventive effect on certain lung cancers.
The high levels of sulforaphane and isothiocyanates in broccoli sprouts have use in killing off cancer cells in colon tumors. The results of one lab study showed that compounds in broccoli sprouts can break down colon cancer cells without harming healthy cells.
You can find how to reduce your risk of colon cancer by following these steps.
Can broccoli sprouts prevent cancer?
Although more research needs to be done on humans to see how broccoli sprouts can help prevent cancer, many studies show promising results.
It is also good to remember that scientific studies have shown that consuming broccoli sprouts have cancer-preventative properties. A 2015 study on humans found that eating broccoli sprouts releases sulforaphane in the body, and scientists were able to detect this anticancer compound in tests after a 12-hour period.
This is why broccoli sprouts are one of the best cancer-fighting foods to include in the anti-cancer diet.
Broccoli Sprouts Help Detox from Cancer-Causing Chemicals
One of the ways that eating broccoli sprouts can help prevent cancer is that they help rid your body of dangerous chemicals.
One trial on humans found the compound glucoraphanin in broccoli sprouts helps detox the body of carcinogenic chemicals. Consuming broccoli sprout drinks helped to reduce levels of carcinogens in the body over a 10-day period.
Another study involving over 290 adults found that compounds in broccoli sprouts have a carcinogen detoxification effect. Regularly consuming a broccoli sprout-based beverage helped to flush out toxins caused by air pollution. This detoxifying effect could help reduce the risk of lung cancer and other pulmonary diseases.
Broccoli Sprouts are Good for Your Heart Health
One of the many benefits of eating broccoli sprouts is that they help improve your cardiovascular health.
Sprouting broccoli seeds are a potent source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that help to keep your heart healthy.
For example, the EPMA Journal reported that broccoli compounds such as sulforaphane help reduce your risk of heart disease. Consuming cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli sprouts can lower inflammation in the arteries. Broccoli sprout compounds are also good for preventing a buildup of arterial plaque (atherosclerosis) that can cause a heart attack or stroke.
One 2018 review found that broccoli sprout compounds promote good cardiovascular health. Consuming broccoli sprouts or sprout extracts helped to lower blood fat, cholesterol, and protect against cardiovascular heart disease.
You can add broccoli sprouts to the delicious foods on the cardiac diet to help lower your risk of the complications from heart disease.
Broccoli Sprouts Help Lower Blood Pressure
One of the ways that eating sprouting broccoli seeds helps improve your health is that they help manage hypertension.
The American Journal of Hypertension reported that lab trials involving hypertensive rats showed that sulforaphane from broccoli sprouts helped to reduce blood pressure. The broccoli sprout extract had a positive effect on kidney health which could also help to lower blood pressure.
Other studies have shown that broccoli sprouts help to lower high blood pressure and also reduce high levels of fats in the blood.
Further reading: How to treat high blood pressure naturally.
Broccoli Sprouts Help Improve Digestive Health
Adding broccoli sprouts to your diet is excellent for your digestion and helping to have healthy bowel habits.
The reason that broccoli sprouts are good for keeping your digestion working properly is that they help improve your gut’s microbiota. One study showed that consuming 20 g of raw broccoli sprouts gives you about 88 mg of sulforaphane glucosinolates. This helps to increase antioxidants in your digestive system to promote good health.
Broccoli sprouts also boost your digestive health because they help treat Helicobacter pylori infections. This type of intestinal bacteria can cause gastric ulcers and cancer. One study found that consuming 70 grams a day of broccoli sprouts helps to reduce the number of harmful bacteria in the gut.
To help improve your gut health and also lower your risk of gastric cancer, add more broccoli sprouts to your diet.
Eating Broccoli Sprouts Can Help Reduce Inflammation
Adding broccoli sprouts to your meals, salads, or smoothies can help tackle the complications of inflammation in your body.
Scientific studies have pointed out that chronic inflammation can lead to serious diseases such as arthritis, heart disease, and even cancer.
A 2018 study involving obese adults found that broccoli sprouts have powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Consuming 30 grams of broccoli sprouts for 10 weeks helped to reduce inflammation markers.
Consuming anti-inflammatory foods can help reduce your risk of certain diseases. Find out about the best foods to include in your diet to reduce chronic inflammation.
Broccoli Sprouts are Good for Your Liver Health
The high levels of antioxidants in broccoli sprouts are excellent to keep your liver working well and prevent liver damage.
According to a study published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology, consuming broccoli sprouts promotes good liver health. The broccoli compound sulforaphane reduces oxidative stress that helps improve liver function.
Other studies on animal subjects have shown the potential of broccoli sprouts to help detoxify the liver and prevent a harmful buildup of chemicals in the body.
Eating broccoli sprouts every day is one way to boost your liver health. Learn about more foods that can strengthen your liver and help to keep this important organ working properly.
Broccoli Sprouts Promote Good Bone Health
One of the many benefits of adding a handful of broccoli sprouts to your daily diet is that they can help prevent brittle bones.
Although your bones need calcium to be strong and stay healthy, antioxidants from cruciferous foods such as broccoli also promote healthy bones.
Broccoli sprouts can help to prevent bone damage caused by harmful compounds called advanced glycation end products (AGEs) that are found in the body as you age. Studies have shown that broccoli compounds reduce inflammatory responses that help to promote healthy bone formation.
Broccoli Sprouts Can Help Manage Type-2 Diabetes
Including broccoli sprouts in your diet can help to prevent many of the complications associated with type 2 diabetes.
Research into the benefits of broccoli sprouts has found that their antioxidants can help improve the health of people with type 2 diabetes. Compounds such as sulforaphane in broccoli sprouts help to lower blood glucose, lower cholesterol, reduce insulin resistance, and lower inflammation.
There is also some scientific evidence that broccoli sprouts can prevent nerve damage (nephropathy) due to type 2 diabetes. The researchers concluded that young broccoli sprout supplementation is an excellent supplementary treatment in type 2 diabetes.
Broccoli Sprouts Can Help Manage Symptoms of Autism
Compounds in broccoli sprouts may have a beneficial effect in helping to treat people showing signs of autism.
One study involving young adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) found that taking sulforaphane found in broccoli sprouts positively affected behavior. The participants took 50-150 µmol sulforaphane as a supplement for 18 weeks. Scientists noted that the broccoli sprout extracts helped improve social interaction, communication, and reduce abnormal behavior.
In a follow-up study 3 years later (in 2017), many caregivers for people with ASD reported that they still notice positive effects of the sulforaphane supplement. Many caregivers said that their children had better communication skills, calmer behavior, and seemed happier due to the supplements.
How to Grow Broccoli Sprouts at Home
The amazing thing about broccoli sprouts is that they are very easy to grow at home. This means that you can have a daily supply of delicious, health-boosting broccoli sprouts without worrying about chemicals or pesticides.
Here’s to grow your own broccoli sprouts:
- Thoroughly clean a 1-quart (1 liter) glass jar.
- Add 3 tablespoons of broccoli seeds to the jar and cover the seeds with warm water so that there are about 2 or 3 inches of water covering the seeds.
- Put some cheesecloth over the jar and secure with an elastic band.
- Place the jar in a warm, dark place to start the germination process and leave overnight.
- After about 8 hours, drain and rinse the seeds.
- Return the seeds to the jar, fill with water again and cover.
- Repeat the draining and rinsing process for about 4 or 5 days twice or 3 times per day until the broccoli seeds start to sprout.
- During the growing time of the seeds, place the jar in warm place with indirect sunlight.
- When the sprouts are an inch long (2.5 cm) and have yellow leaves, you can expose them to some sunlight. Continue to rinse and drain as you did before.
- The broccoli sprouts should be ready to eat when they developed a darker green leaves and are longer than an inch. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days after harvesting.
When it comes to storing broccoli sprouts, the good news is that you can freeze the sprouted seeds to eat later. In fact, research has shown that freezing sprouted broccoli seeds retains their powerful antioxidant properties.
It may be easier to freeze the broccoli sprouts on a flat sheet for a couple of hours before transferring to a freezer bag. Or, you could freeze the sprouts in smaller batches to enjoy later.
How to Eat Broccoli Sprouts
There are many ways you can add broccoli sprouts to your diet to get all of their health benefits. Here are a few ideas:
- Use a handful of broccoli sprouts to top your favorite sandwich.
- Make a healthy salad and combine a few tablespoons of sprouted broccoli.
- Add broccoli sprouts to your stir-fry during the last minute of cooking to retain their texture and nutritional value.
- Add broccoli sprouts to a healthy green smoothie to increase its nutritional content.