The research on the benefits of sulforaphane has been going on for many years now. But the rise in popularity of sulforaphane as a dietary supplement is a relatively recent phenomenon.
And one of the people who have played a significant role in the rise of sulforaphane’s prominence is Dr. Rhonda Patrick, a Ph.D. in biomedical science and an expert on nutritional health.
She brought the benefits of sulforaphane to the forefront when she mentioned them in an episode of the Joe Rogan Experience in 2018.
Another prominent sulforaphane advocate is Dr. Jed Fahey, Assistant Professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Division of Clinical Pharmacology. He has been involved in several major studies about the benefits of sulforaphane.
Here, we’ll discuss what is sulforaphane, as well as some of its benefits according to Dr. Rhonda Patrick and Dr. Jed Fahey.
What is sulforaphane
Sulforaphane is a plant compound that’s rich in sulfur, found predominantly in cruciferous vegetables. It is created from a type of compound known as isothiocyanates that are present abundantly in vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, etc.
When you chew, chop, or crush these cruciferous vegetables, you activate the myrosinase enzyme within the vegetable. Myrosinase transforms the isothiocyanates into the bioavailable form of sulforaphane that your body can absorb.
What are the benefits of sulforaphane?
Through various podcast appearances and social media posts, both Dr. Rhonda Patrick and Dr. Jed Fahey have brought our attention to these benefits of sulforaphane that we’ll discuss in this section.
All of these benefits are backed by research, and as you’ll see, some of the potential disease prevention and anti-aging benefits of sulforaphane are incredibly exciting.
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Sulforaphane may benefit cardiovascular health
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States .
So, anything you can do to reduce your risk is worth considering. Along with a balanced, nutrient-rich diet, regular exercise, proper sleeping habits, etc., adding a sulforaphane supplement may provide an additional boost to your heart health.
Whether it’s eating a lot of cruciferous vegetables or taking a supplement, sulforaphane consumption has been linked with a lower risk of mortality due to cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack and stroke.
One 2014 study found that sulforaphane extracted from broccoli and Brussel sprouts had a beneficial effect on cardiac hypertrophy, a condition that is a contributing factor for heart disease .
Other studies have also shown sulforaphane’s positive effect on cardiovascular health, like promoting healthy blood pressure .
Sulforaphane may benefit cognitive health
One of the most interesting benefits of sulforaphane is its potential to boost brain health and cognitive function.
The key reason why sulforaphane might be beneficial for mental function is its potential ability to cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB) .
And we also know that sulforaphane has anti-inflammatory effects  and can counteract oxidative stress, both of which can play a role in better cognitive function.
The research so far has shown that sulforaphane consumption might have a link to the following benefits:
- Improvements in social interactions, behavior, and communication skills for those with autism spectrum disorder (Massachusetts General Hospital for Children and Harvard Medical School study) .
- Significant improvement in cognitive functions amont those diagnosed with schizophrenia, according to study published in Clinical Psychopharmacology and Neuroscience Journal .
- Improvement in depression symptoms among mice that consumed sulforaphane-rich broccoli sprouts in a Japanese study .
Sulforaphane may reduce the risk of cancer
Sulforaphane might reduce your risk of cancer by preventing procarcinogens from turning into carcinogens.
We ingest procarcinogens from various sources, whether it cigarette smoke, air pollution, or dietary sources like nitrites from processed meats. These procarcinogens turn into carcinogens in our bodies, which then increases our risk of cancer.
Sulforaphane can reduce our risk of cancer by preventing the transformation of procarcinogens to carcinogens.
One 2010 study published in the BMC Cancer Journal found that the risk of lung cancer was reduced by up to 55 percent in smokers who consumed high amounts of raw cruciferous vegetables, which are rich in sulforaphane .
Sulforaphane’s anti-aging benefits
Sulforaphane induces a potent antioxidant effect in your body by activating key enzymes. And because of this antioxidant effect, sulforaphane ends up helping with detoxification (cleansing the body of toxins).
Through this process, sulforaphane also prevents DNA damage, which is a vital factor when it comes to slowing down aging. Preventing DNA damage is also one of the ways that sulforaphane helps reduce the risk of cancer.
A 12-week randomized clinical trial with 291 participants in China demonstrated that sulforaphane can significantly increase the excretion of air pollutants like benzene from the body.
They experienced an increase in the rate of excretion of benzene by more than 60 percent . And it happened on the first day they drank the broccoli sprouts beverage.
Potential benefits currently being researched
The sulforaphane benefits we’ve discussed above have been well established, thanks to research from scientists like Dr. Jed Fahey.
But there are other potential benefits that are still being studied or don’t yet have sufficient evidence, but they can be promising nonetheless.
Can sulforaphane have therapeutic effects on cancer?
There’s currently research underway to learn more about sulforaphane’s therapeutic effects on cancer.
But as of right now, there isn’t enough evidence to say that sulforaphane can be therapeutic for someone diagnosed with cancer.
All the benefits we’ve discussed so far are only preventive and aims to reduce your risk of cancer.
For more on the topic, you can check out Dr. Jed Fahey’s interview with Dr. Rhonda Patrick.
Another potential benefit currently under research is the effect sulforaphane might have on muscle preservation.
One 2012 University of Bonn study found that sulforaphane may reduce levels of myostatin, a growth factor protein. Myostatin acts on muscle cells to inhibit growth.
By reducing myostatin levels, sulforaphane might have the potential to preserve or promote muscle growth.
This can be relevant in someone who might be at a higher risk of muscle wasting due to a disease, or after an injury/accident.
But we must note this is still only a potential benefit, and we need further evidence to come to a conclusion about efficacy .
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The best way to get sulforaphane in your diet
The best way to get sulforaphane in your diet is to eat broccoli sprouts. They provide the most bioavailable form of sulforaphane.
A simple search for “Rhonda Patrick broccoli sprouts” will provide you all you need to know about broccoli sprouts and sulforaphane, including a simple video instruction on how to sprout your own seeds.
If you can’t make your own sprouts, you can take a sulforaphane supplement. Just try to pick one that also includes myrosinase to increase absorption . Both Dr Jed Fahey & Dr Rhonda Patrick have recommended Crucera-SGS from Thorne Research during interviews as their #1 pick for sulforaphane supplements.
So what are the main sulforaphane benefits?
We’ve listed some of the main benefits of sulforaphane, as highlighted by Dr. Rhonda Patrick and Dr. Jed Fahey. But since sulforaphane induces a potent antioxidant effect in your body, there can be numerous other benefits when it comes to maintaining optimal health.
That being said, like any supplement, you will only get the most out of sulforaphane when you consume it in addition to a well-balanced and healthy lifestyle.
And if you’re currently undergoing treatment or on other medications, you must consult with your doctor before you start taking sulforaphane to avoid any potential complications.
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