The germinated broccoli or broccoli sprouts, is packed with nutrients and have many health benefits. 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.
Since broccoli seeds are so easy to sprout at home, it’s okay 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 sauces. If you decide to eat them, broccoli sprouts can help strengthen your health.
In this article, you will learn why broccoli sprouts are so healthy for you. You’ll also discover what the science says about broccoli sprouts in relation to fighting cancer.
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What are broccoli sprouts?
Broccoli sprouts are small sprouts that grow when broccoli seeds are germinated. Of course, the broccoli sprouts will eventually turn into ripe broccoli. However, research has shown that eating young broccoli sprouts has many health benefits.
It takes about 3-4 days for the sprouts to appear from the broccoli seeds. They resemble alfalfa sprouts, and some people say they have a spicy, radish-like flavor.
Broccoli sprouts are the young broccoli plant before it matures. However, sprouting broccoli contains concentrated health-enhancing compounds.
Nutritional value of broccoli sprouts
Like most seeds that sprout, broccoli sprouts contain some vitamins and minerals. However, it is the presence of the plant compounds sulforaphane and glucosinolates in broccoli sprouts that make it 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 like cabbage, cauliflower, kale, and broccoli. However, broccoli sprouts contain high levels of sulforaphane. Scientific studies have found that sulforaphane can protect against various types of cancer, heart disease, and osteoporosis.
Another study found that broccoli sprouts contain compounds called glucosinolates that help flush toxins from the body. The study showed that chewing fresh broccoli sprouts releases glucosinolates, which can help provide the body with powerful antioxidants.
The sulforaphane and glucosinolate compounds in broccoli sprouts are important in preventing cancer as they help limit the effect of carcinogens in the body.
Health benefits of broccoli sprouts
Let’s take a closer look at the many reasons why eating broccoli sprouts is extremely good for you.
There are also promising results in the use of broccoli sprouts and sprout extracts in the treatment of various types of cancer.
Broccoli sprouts and breast cancer
A laboratory trial found that a sulforaphane made from broccoli and broccoli sprouts can help inhibit the growth of cancer stem cells in breast cancer.
Although more studies are needed in humans, the researchers found that the sulforaphane from broccoli sprouts is easily absorbed from the gut. This cancer-fighting compound is then distributed throughout the body.
Broccoli sprouts and prostate cancer
A 2018 study found that eating broccoli sprouts has the potential to prevent or slow the progression of prostate cancer. The scientists observed that sulforaphane was detected in the liver, colon, kidney and prostate tissues of mice that 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 powerful inhibitors of cancer cells that can cause bladder cancer.
Studies have also found that compounds in broccoli sprouts can help delay lung cancer caused by tobacco smoking. Treatment of cancer cells with isothiocyanates and sulforaphane had a chemo preventive effect in certain lung cancers.
The high levels of sulforaphane and isothiocyanates in broccoli sprouts are used to kill cancer cells in colon tumors. Results of a laboratory study showed that the compounds in broccoli sprouts can break down colon cancer cells without harming healthy cells.
Other Ways Broccoli Sprouts Keep You Healthy
- Broccoli sprouts detoxify cancer-causing chemicals. This detoxifying effect could help reduce the risk of lung cancer and other lung diseases.
- Broccoli sprouts are good for your heart health. Compounds in broccoli sprouts are also good at preventing the build-up of arterial plaque (atherosclerosis) that can cause a heart attack or stroke.
- Lowers blood pressure. Eating sprouted broccoli seeds helps control hypertension. They also help reduce high levels of fat in the blood.
- Broccoli sprouts help improve digestive health. The reason broccoli sprouts are good for keeping your digestion working properly is because they help improve the microbiota in your gut. One study found that consuming 70 grams a day of broccoli sprouts helps reduce the number of harmful bacteria in the gut.
- Eating broccoli sprouts can help reduce inflammation. Adding broccoli sprouts to your meals, salads, or smoothies can help you tackle the complications of inflammation in your body. Scientific studies have shown that chronic inflammation can lead to serious illnesses like arthritis, heart disease, and even cancer.
- Broccoli sprouts are good for your liver health. The high levels of antioxidants in broccoli sprouts are great for keeping your liver working well and preventing liver damage.
- 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 healthy, the antioxidants in cruciferous foods like broccoli also promote healthy bones.
- Manage type 2 diabetes. Including broccoli sprouts in your diet can help prevent many of the complications associated with type 2 diabetes.
- Broccoli sprouts can help control autism symptoms. The compounds in broccoli sprouts may have a beneficial effect in helping to treat people who show signs of autism. A study involving young adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) found that taking sulforaphane found in broccoli sprouts positively affected behavior.
How to grow broccoli sprouts at home
The amazing thing about broccoli sprouts is that it is so easy to grow at home. This means you can have a daily supply of delicious, health-enhancing broccoli sprouts without worrying about chemicals or pesticides.
Here is for growing 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 is about 2 to 3 inches of water covering the seeds.
- Put some gauze over the jar and secure it with a rubber band.
- Put the jar in a warm, dark place to start the germination process and leave it overnight.
- After about 8 hours, drain and rinse the seeds.
- Put the seeds back in the jar, refill with water, and cover.
- Repeat the draining process and rinse for about 4-5 days two or three times a day until the broccoli seeds begin to sprout.
- During seed growth time, place the jar in a warm location with indirect sunlight.
- When the shoots are an inch long (2.5 cm) and have yellow leaves, you can expose them to a little sunlight. Continue rinsing and draining as you did before.
- Broccoli sprouts should be ready to eat when they develop darker green leaves and are over an inch. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days after harvest.
When it comes to storing broccoli sprouts, the good news is that you can freeze the sprouts to eat later. In fact, research has shown that freezing sprouted broccoli seeds preserves their powerful antioxidant properties.
It may be easier to freeze the broccoli sprouts on a flat sheet for a couple of hours before transferring them to a freezer bag. Or, you can freeze the sprouts in smaller batches to enjoy later.
How to eat broccoli sprouts
There are many ways that you can add broccoli sprouts to your diet to reap all of its health benefits. Here are some ideas:
- Use a handful of broccoli sprouts to top off 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 preserve its texture and nutritional value.
- Add broccoli sprouts to a healthy green smoothie to increase its nutritional content.