Since 1992, the research of Paul Talalay realized the health benefits of the cruciferous or Brassica Family of vegetables.  These, mainly green vegetables, already possess all the benefits of green plants.  The added magic of these veggies was found in its protective mechanism against natural enemies.  When it is damaged through cutting or biting into it, it releases a chemical called sulforaphane .

Sulforaphane is a phytochemical abundant in the following vegetables:

·       Bok choy

·       Broccoli (Most NB source) [1]

·       Brussels Sprouts

·       Cauliflower

·       Cabbage (2nd best source, especially red cabbage) [1]

·       Collard greens

·       Kale

·       Mustard greens

·       Spinach

·       Swiss Chard. 

Research studies published show a growing evidence that these plants form a power house protecting health in humans.


1.     Sulforaphane is increasingly referred to as an anti-cancer compound. [2]  This reputation is linked mainly to sulforaphane’s potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, similar to turmeric (curcumin).

2.     One promising, study found that the combination of sulforaphane, aspirin and curcumin was effective for the chemoprevention of pancreatic cancer. [3]

3.     Some studies showed it has significant breast cancer prevention abilities.  [4]

4.     Lately research showed that the best cancer treatment and prevention is to kill cancer stem cells.  One study showed that sulforaphane has the ability to do that. [5]

5.     One study showed that consumption of steamed broccoli inhibited DNA damage to cells, thus protecting the body against cancer . [6]

6.     Some studies show prevention and healing of prostate cancer. [7]

7.     Colon cancer could be prevented by the consumption of suforaphane. [8]

8.     It also helps with pain relief and fibromialgia. [9]

9.     With cardio health still one of the main concerns in the western world it is woth knowing that as a potent antioxidant suforaphane is a protector against many risk factors for heart health.  It lowers blood lipids, protects against vessel damage and lowers blood pressure. [10]


Incorporating cruciferous vegeatables in your diet is not a major challenge as most of them are available in our grocery stores and known to us already.  It is worth knowing that more of the sulforaphane compound is released from raw vegetables than cooked ones [11].  However, addition of powdered mustard seeds to the cooking of broccoli significantly increased the formation of sulforaphane [12].

Another twist in this plot is that these vegetables possess a compound which mimics thyroid hormone in humans without activating the thyroid function.  The implication of this is that it will suppress the thyroid function.  People with underactive thyroid should avoid consuming these vegetables raw.  To still enjoy the other health benefits, it has, it should be lightly steamed in the presence of mustard seeds.  On the other hand, people with an over active thyroid function could benefit by consuming these vegetables raw.





1. Campas-Baypoli, ON, Bueno-Solano, C, et al. [Sulforaphane (1-Isothiocyanato-4-(Methylsulfinyl)-Butane) Content in Cruciferous Vegetables]. Arch Latinoam Nutr 59(1)95-100.


2. Zhang, Y, Talalay, P, et al. A Major Inducer of Anticarcinogenic Protective Enzymes from Broccoli: Isolation and Elucidation of Structure. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 89(6)2399-403. PMC48665


3. Thakkar, A, Sutaria, D, et al. The Molecular Mechanism of Action of Aspirin, Curcumin and Sulforaphane Combinations in the Chemoprevention of Pancreatic Cancer. Oncol Rep 29(4)1671-7. PMC3621734


4. Li, Y, Zhang, T, et al. Preclinical Sulforaphane, a Dietary Component of Broccoli/Broccoli Sprouts, Inhibits Breast Cancer Stem Cells. Clin Cancer Res 16(9)2580–90.


5. Li, Y, Zhang, T, et al. Sulforaphane, a Dietary Component of Broccoli/Broccoli Sprouts, Inhibits Breast Cancer Stem

Cells. Cancer Therapy 16(9)


6. Riso, P, Martini, D, et al. DNA Damage and Repair Activity after Broccoli Intake in Young Healthy Smokers. Mutagenesis 25(6)595-602.


7. Kristal, AR and Lampe, JW. Brassica Vegetables and Prostate Cancer Risk: A Review of the Epidemiological Evidence. Nutr Cancer 42(1)1-9.


8. Wang, Y, Dacosta, C, et al. Synergy between Sulforaphane and Selenium in Protection against Oxidative Damage in Colonic Ccd841 Cells. Nutr Res. 26094214


9. Baenas, N, Gonzalez-Trujano, ME, et al. Broccoli Sprouts in Analgesia - Preclinical in Vivo Studies. Food Funct 8(1)167-76.


10. Miao, X, Bai, Y, et al. Sulforaphane Prevention of Diabetes-Induced Aortic Damage Was Associated with the up-Regulation of Nrf2 and Its Down-Stream Antioxidants. Nutrition & Metabolism. . Nutr Metab 9(1)84. PMC3495894


11. Vermeulen, M, Klopping-Ketelaars, IW, et al. Bioavailability and Kinetics of Sulforaphane in Humans after Consumption of Cooked Versus Raw Broccoli. J Agric Food Chem 56(22)10505-9.


12. Ghawi, S, Methven, L, et al. The Potential to Intensify Sulforaphane Formation in Cooked Broccoli (Brassica Oleracea Var. Italica) Using Mustard Seeds. Food Chem. 2013 Jun 1;138(2-3):1734-41. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2012.10.119. Epub 2012 Nov 1 138(2-3)1734-41.