Eat Your Broccoli and Sprouts! Sulforaphane

BUT just blanch them for a few minutes, don’t over cook them as that destroys the value.

This is a very long, 2 1/2 hour, technical interview video. The bottom line of it is that you ought to eat more of the Cole family plants, and especially those with “bite” to them (i.e. that taste bad to some folks).

Also the exact biochemicals involved and where there are the most of them (sprouted broccoli seeds).

So eat your radishes, wasabi, horseradish (and for me, those horseradish leaves with their ‘bite’), broccoli, kale, cauliflower, mustard and mustard greens, cress, turnips, cabbages and yes, Brussels Sprouts, and so on down the line.

These activate the NrF2 pathway that increases disease resistance, cancer protection, and reduces inflammation. Basically, all over the place good things.

The description reads:

Published on Jan 6, 2017
Dr. Jed W. Fahey is a nutritional biochemist with broad training and extensive background in plant physiology, human nutrition, phytochemistry and nutritional biochemistry. He is the director of the Cullman Chemoprotection Center at Johns Hopkins.

The reason I’ve asked him to join us today, in particular, however, is because he has been researching isothiocyanates like sulforaphane for over 20 years and is an exceptional expert in this arena.

Dr. Fahey and his colleagues have been, in a big way, at the absolute center of what is a staggering amount of research on these very powerful compounds.

There is hardly a topic which we can discuss in which he doesn’t have an anecdote about a study he was involved in, or, in some cases, tribal knowledge that may not even be published but is nonetheless interesting and an important part of the story that is unique to his particular vantage point.

▶︎ If you have not seen my previous, extremely in-depth video on sulforaphane, a very important isothiocyanate, please do so:

and I’m going to put that video in front of the 2.5 hour one so you can view them in order if desired. It is only 47 minutes:

Needless to say, I’m going to ramp up my use of my Horseradish patch, plant some more radishes (even if the spouse doesn’t like them…), cook Brussels Sprouts in the house (even if the spouse complains about the ‘aroma’) and plant more of my hybrid Kalards Franken-Cole (and maybe even select for a more ‘bite’-full version).

It looks like one of THE best single things you can do for a broad spectrum of the major things that ail folks (cancer, inflammation). As I really LIKE things with bite, like radishes and wasabi and horseradish and… AND as I like “sauerkraut and Polish” and other cabbage dishes: I’m happy to up my game in that regard.

Will I try “Broccoli Sprouts”? Maybe. With an 86% slowing of a doubling rate of prostate tumor, and given that 100% of men will get prostate cancer if they live long enough, “that matters” and I can likely put up with a broccoli sprout smoothy for that… (Yes, ladies, there were similar findings of effects on breast cancer and that it helped p53 gene to prevent cancer).

So go explore the Brassica / Cole section of your grocery store, or at least have some sushi and work on your wasabi tolerance ;-) Wimps in the group can work on their watercress finger sandwiches ;-)

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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17 Responses to Eat Your Broccoli and Sprouts! Sulforaphane

  1. Ossqss says:

    Can’t hate these ;-)

  2. E.M.Smith says:

    Gee, bacon & cheese to improve eating interest…. what a novel idea /sarc; ;-)

    I think you could add bacon and cheese to cardboard and folks would love it…

    Since at the 4 minute of low steam point the “good stuff” starts to be degraded more than the anti-good stuff was being removed, I’m going to change my Brussels Sprouts cooking to be “quarter them, then steam gently for 3 to 4 minutes” and have them a bit less cooked…

    Don’t know if the spouse would accept them even with bacon on top and soaked in Cheeze Whiz… I think she would pick out the Brussels Sprouts and eat the rest…

    I found it interesting that mustard seed enhances the conversion of precursors to suforaphane. I need to look up the precursor / isothiocyanate content of sauerkraut, but being cold fermented I’d expect it to stay reasonably high. That, then, would imply that the classic of mustard on a kraut-dog is a winner! ( I love it on a Polish Sausage)

    So that Polish / Kraut / Mustard Giant Dog at the Ball Park / Hockey Game is health food? Who knew…. ;-)

  3. Ian W says:

    I can remember reading that as people did not like the bitter taste of broccoli and similar ‘greens’, they were being bred to reduce the sulforaphane content. So it may be necessary to find/grow older variants rather than the supermarket bins.

  4. Bill in Oz says:

    Don’t forget the sauerkraut ! In the depths of winter pickled cabbage is great value. The Russians eat it with horse radish sauce added and I have taken to adding horse radish sauce to the sauerkraut i eat..Nice bite to it !

    By the way, in past reading/research I found that standard big headed broccoli and all sweet flavoured radishes had been bred so much that they no longer had any bite at all and were very low in Sulforaphane. I tend to grow the wilder ( less domesticated ? Less hybrised ? ) brassicas like Kale and the small Italian broccollini types. I also spent some time looking for radishes varieties with a hot bite like my dad grew back in the 1950-60’s. But they no longer exist here in Oz and getting them from overseas raises quarantine issues. :-(

  5. E.M.Smith says:

    @Bill in Oz:

    Look for Black Spanish radishes in winter… they are very hot…..

    Also, check local seed companues, someone will have heirloom radishes…

    As a quick search:

    Welcome to Succeed Heirlooms, an Australian online seed store offering a wide range of traditional, open-pollinated heirloom vegetable seeds, flower seeds and herb seeds. None of our seeds are genetically modified or treated with chemicals and their quality is always guaranteed. You can order seeds below using our online catalog which also contains extensive tips on how to grow each of the varieties we offer.

    Due to customs law we cannot send seed to WA, TAS or overseas customers.

    Radish ‘Black Spanish Long’
    Radish ‘Black Spanish Long’
    Black Spanish Long is a black-skinned, white-fleshed heirloom radish. Roots are strongly flavoured and grow large, up to 20cm long. This was one of the first European vegetable varieties introduced to Australia by sailors on the first fleet in 1788. Each packet contains 50 heirloom seeds.

    Price Per Item: $ 2.50
    Product Details

    Radish ‘Cherry Belle’
    Radish ‘Cherry Belle’
    Radish ‘Cherry Belle’ is a bright, red-skinned, quick growing heirloom variety. Creamy, white flesh with low pithiness. 4 to 5 weeks till harvest. Each packet contains 50 seeds.

    Price Per Item: $ 2.50
    Product Details

    No image set
    Radish ‘Fire Candle’
    Fire Candle is a heirloom radish variety with elongated roots that look like carrots but with a striking bright fire-red skin. Under the skin the flesh is white. Flavour is mild when grown during cooler months in rich soils and stronger when grown during warmer months in poorer soils. 50 seeds per packet.

    Note that growing in warmer weather gives hotter radishes…

  6. beththeserf says:

    For years I’ve eaten broccoli almost every night. I usually buy frozen. With a roast or casserole find the flavour goes well, caulliflour also, grate cheese over it while draining in saucepan, luvely with salmon mornay, yum. Glass of wine, )

  7. Bill in Oz says:

    Hi EM Thanks for that comment. I thought I knew all the mail order seed companies here. But no, I’ve never heard of Succeed Heirloom Seeds. I’ll check it out.
    I try out the Spanish Black Radish. I’ve tried in the past inAutumn and it just did not biggen up as it should. I suspect that it needs sowing here in February/March to give it time to grow before Winter sets in.
    Re red radishes.. A few years ago I was in Argentina ( dancing tango )and the nearby weekly farmers market had a stall with bunches of hot radishes. That was in August ..In the Southern hemisphere Winter.. So there are varieties which are grown for their bite even in Autumn/Winter..( I tried to bring some seed back but failed ) Red radishes grown here in Spring normally just bolt and set seed. But maybe this is worth talking to some seed companies about getting seed imported through quarantine.

  8. andysaurus says:

    @Bill in Oz I used to grow radishes here just south of Brisbane before my keto/carnivore conversion. I used them to mark rows of seeds because they germinate at almost 100% and shoot rapidly, making perfect ‘marker’ plants. That also gave me an incentive to thin the rows because they weren’t the prime crop. . These young tender radishes are MUCH hotter than the old, woody ones which you could almost turn on a lathe.
    I am reminded of my youth, hiking through a field in Shropshire and wondering what the crop was. I pulled a single stalk from a plant and bit into the root. It was horseradish. I think my sinuses have just stopped smarting after 50 odd years.
    You are, of course, welcome to eat whatever you wish, but I think that it is likely that ‘bite’ is nature’s way of telling you these things cause inflammation and should be avoided. See you in heaven and we can compare notes on who’s right. Let’s hope it’s a long time coming.

  9. Bill in Oz says:

    Andy when I was managing the farm some years ago I was persuaded to grow horse radish for a friend of the family. I got no instructions for it though. I was not told it is impossible to kill and that it grows back after harvest every year. And that it spreads like a weed unless dug each year….(Maybe ground freeze sets it back in the USA ? )
    Another thing I was not told was to wear a proper face mask when processing the roots. I put the roots through a blender to make the sauce. And took the lid off for quick look and smell. It rocked my sinuses like exploding dynamite…. Took about an hour to recover !
    Ohhh well..Good info for folks here..

    I agree about the radishes..Woody ones are just tough fibre. The best I’ve ever eaten were straight from the garden : crisp and bitey !
    By the way Giant Japanese red Mustard will self seed itself if allowed. it wants to grow ! I do not ever sow seed a second time. i just let some of the ones from the first sowing go to seed. good asian stir fry tucker or in my lamb stews..
    ( Made a huge pot of lamb stew on Sunday here. Just finished off the last bowl tonight for dinner. ! )

  10. E.M.Smith says:

    Also of note:

    Raphanin is the main sulfur component found in radish seeds of Raphanus sativus and is also found in broccoli and red cabbage. It was first described by G. Ivanovics and S. Horvath in 1947. Raphanin inhibits activity of viruses, some fungi and various bacteria including Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, Pneumococcus and Escherichia coli (see table). The effect is stronger against Gram-positive than Gram-negative bacteria and against DNA than RNA viruses; it is suppressed by serum and by sulfur compounds such as hydrogen sulfide, mercaptoacetic acid, cystine and glutathione. The antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral effects from consuming radishes were recognized in traditional Chinese medicine. However, in the abstract to his 1947 paper, Ivanovics noted that because raphanin is highly toxic, it did not “hold the promise of a useful therapeutic agent”.

    Someone needs to remind Ivanovics that “the poison is in the dose” and that many antibiotics are toxic at excessive doses and therapeutic under that point.

    Next time I have a cold I think I’m going to hit the radish sprouts…

  11. E.M.Smith says:


    It looks like the “hot” stuff in radishes is in fact that isothiocyanate reaction with myrosinase. So yes, the “bite” is what you are looking for… sulforaphane is just one of the family of resultant compounds that are suspected of doing good things. Like kill off damaging bacteria and viruses, stimulate immune response and kill cancer cells.

    The molecules that give us a peppery jolt when we bite into the radish are allyl isothiocyanate, which do not exist inside whole radishes. Instead, the radish’s cells are full of glucosinolates. These compounds contain sulfur, so they have the potential to give us that nose-tickle we get from spicy foods, but they don’t give us what we think of as a radish flavor.

    Other parts of radish cells contain myrosinase. When a chemical compound ends in “ase” you can bet its an enzyme, which means it will go to work on the molecules around it. Myrosinase is kept contained in its own little chamber until someone bites into the radish, or slices it, or crushes it up. The damaged cells spill out myrosinase and glucosinolates, which mix together. The enzyme breaks down the sulfur-compound, which results in allyl isothiocyanate, and the spicy kick that we taste when we eat radishes.

  12. cdquarles says:

    Heh. I love eating all of these. The good old see food and eat it diet. I also like hot peppers. The hotter the better (up to a point), and the more you eat of them, the more you can.

  13. Yonason says:


    It’s in many brassicas, and is highly toxic.

    Small amounts of those veggies may be good because of the beneficial stuff in them, but if eaten frequently might be problematic.

    “…target organ is the heart…”

    Just thought some would like to hear the other side. (There’s almost always another side.)

    FULL DISCLOSURE – If it didn’t make me sick, I wouldn’t be worried about it, but it does. It started slowly and built up over time, until it was short term debilitating after even a small amount.

    I am, however, totally on board with a keto diet.

  14. Bill in Oz says:

    Rape seed, Canola ( which is Canadian Rape seed ) & mustard all have plenty of Euric acid in them
    That’s why I decline to eat canola or mustard oils
    But in brassica vegetables like kale, cabbage, brussels sprouts, collard thousands of years of plant selection has reduce the Euric acid levels greatly…

  15. tom0mason says:

    And please do not forget that ‘old fashioned’ remedy mustard. Wonderful little seed punches well above its weight when it come to health benefits.

    Mustard poultice for headache, muscle aches, etc.

  16. E.M.Smith says:


    It was my understanding that the Erucic Acid was in the oil and that was in the seeds. Once sprouted and growing vegetatively, that it was essentially so dilute as to be irrelevant.

    Are you saying you got damaging levels from eating the greens?

    I agree with not eating large quantities of the seeds and oils.(though even there, the Canadians developed Canola as a genetic mutant with low levels of harmful fatty acids, allowing it to be used as a commercial food oil).

    I guess what I’m asking is : How much of what were you eating to get a toxic dose?

  17. E.M.Smith says:

    I know, citing the Wiki as some kind of authority is fraught with wrongness, but:

    Health effects
    Studies done on laboratory animals in the early 1970s show that erucic acid appears to have toxic effects on the heart at high enough doses. An association between the consumption of rapeseed oil and increased myocardial lipidosis, or heart disease, has not been established for humans. While there are reports of toxicity from long-term use of Lorenzo’s oil (which contains erucic acid and other ingredients), there are no reports of harm to people from dietary consumption of erucic acid.:

    Publication of animal studies with erucic acid through the 1970s led to governments worldwide moving away from oils with high levels of erucic acid, and tolerance levels for human exposure to erucic acid have been established based on the animal studies.

    In 2003, Food Standards Australia set a provisional tolerable daily intake (PTDI) for an average adult of about 500 mg/day of erucic acid, extrapolated based on “the level that is associated with increased myocardial lipidosis in nursing pigs.” “There is a 120-fold safety margin between this level and the level that is associated with increased myocardial lipidosis in nursing pigs. The dietary exposure assessment has concluded that the majority of exposure to erucic acid by the general population would come from the consumption of canola oil. The dietary intake of erucic acid by an individual consuming at the average level is well below the PTDI, therefore, there is no cause for concern in terms of public health and safety. However, the individual consuming at a high level has the potential to approach the PTDI. This would be particularly so if the level of erucic acid in canola oil were to exceed 2% of the total fatty acids.”

    Food-grade rapeseed oil (also known as canola oil, rapeseed 00 oil, low erucic acid rapeseed oil, LEAR oil, and rapeseed canola-equivalent oil) is regulated to a maximum of 2% erucic acid by weight in the USA and 5% in the EU, with special regulations for infant food.

    So 500 mg x 120 = 60,000 mg or 60 grams of Erucic acid when it becomes toxic. Then a max of 2% in the oil so x 50 = 3000 or 3 kg of Canola Oil per day. That’s about a gallon… ( though only 20 x 60 = 1200 or 1.2 kg in Europe, or about 2 L / day.)

    It seems to me that would be hard to achieve;…

    I could see “getting there” with Rape Seed as it has a much higher level, but it isn’t allowed in food production, only the modified form is allowed. I could also see some individuals having inability to metabolize it in the liver and being especially sensitive to build up (as every person is unique).

    Erucic acid
    Main article: Erucic acid
    Although wild rapeseed oil contains significant amounts of erucic acid, the cultivars used to produce commercial, food-grade canola oil were bred to contain less than 2% erucic acid,
    an amount deemed not significant as a health risk. To date, no health effects have been associated with dietary consumption of erucic acid by humans; but tests of erucic acid metabolism in other species imply that higher levels may be detrimental. Canola oil produced using genetically modified plants has also not been shown to explicitly produce adverse effects.

    The erucic acid content in canola oil has been reduced over the years. In western Canada, a reduction occurred from the average content of 0.5% between 1987 and 1996 to a current content of 0.01% from 2008 to 2015. Other reports also show a content lower than 0.1% in Australia and Brazil.

    Canola oil poses no unusual health risks, and its consumption in food-grade forms is generally recognized as safe by the United States Food and Drug Administration.

    So the actual production product is now down to 0.1 to 0.01% and not anywhere near the 2% level. So multiply that gallon by 20 …

    OK, all that said: I’d not go out and start having a big bowl of Rape Seed for breakfast (the form not selected for low toxic fatty acid levels)… but I’m also not seeing where it is in production much anymore.

    But what about broccoli?

    Regenesis over 2 years ago | link
    Broccoli seeds contain a toxin, erucic acid which gradually disappears as the seeds sprout. I would be very concerned about consuming ground broccoli seeds.

    Regenesis over 2 years ago | link
    Excerpts from the Abstract to a 2002 paper by West et al. entitled “Determination and Health Implication of the Erucic Acid Content of Broccoli Florets, Sprouts, and Seeds” state…

    “The erucic acid content of broccoli florets, sprouts, and seeds was found to be about 0.8, 320, and 12100 mg/100 g, respectively. The estimated dietary intake of erucic acid from florets and sprouts was considered of little consequence, whereas in seeds a relatively small amount (about 35 g/wk) equaled our calculated exposure limit for erucic acid.”

    Some supplement manufacturers produce broccoli seed ‘extracts’ and these are available to buy. Whilst the extraction process removes the erucic acid, it also destroys the myrosinase enzyme which is necessary to produce the health-promoting compound, sulforaphane. Please dont be tempted to consume broccoli seeds. The erucic acid in seeds is approx. 40 times more concentrated than in the sprouts, so the risk of toxicity is high. Erucic acid has been reported to adversely affect cardiovascular function. Best to consume the fresh sprouts or a 100% whole sprout powder or capsules with everything intact – apart from removal of water.

    So it looks like you ought not eat the ground up seeds, but it would take over a kg of sprouts / week to reach whatever “exposure limit” they set using those numbers:

    12100/320 = 37.8125 times more sprouts needed than seeds. x 35 g limit = 1323 grams or about 1 1/3 kg of sprouts per week. Now that’s only 190 grams / day, so I suppose someone could eat a pint of sprouts / day… Sprouts are pretty light weight though, and it would likely take a larger bulk than that to get to 190 grams. Still, “enthusiasts” ought to weight their dose of sprouts…

    So it is inside the realm of possible to OD on the seeds and for folks very ambitious with the sprouts to OD on the sprouts; but you would have to work at it for anything green…

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