Broccoli compound may hold key to blocking disease

A potent compound derived from broccoli sprouts may be one of the most powerful natural substances able to ignite the body’s defences against cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer, research shows.

Sulforaphane, a small sulphur-containing molecule derived from cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli sprouts, has been researched for 25 years for its apparent preventive properties against chronic diseases.

A recent review by academics from across the globe said a growing body of data showed that sulforaphane acts against cancer at different levels within human cells, such as potentially protecting them from DNA damage, eliminating cancerous cells, thwarting tumour growth and preventing the spread of the disease.

Although there are limited clinical trials of sulforaphane in humans, “pre-clinical data strongly show that sulforaphane is a good potential candidate as a functional molecule against cancer,” the researchers noted.

Dr Christine Houghton, Australian author, leading nutritional medicine researcher and expert in nutrigenomics (the study of nutrition’s effect on genes) says sulforaphane is among only a handful of powerful food molecules shown to enhance the activity of the many genes known to protect cells.

“When we incorporate these food molecules into our daily routine, we can maximise their benefits on our cells. And if all our cells are healthy, we will be healthy.”

Houghton, who visits SA from 6 – 13 June to introduce sulforaphane to health professionals, explained that broccoli doesn’t actually contain sulforaphane, but rather a compound and an enzyme that, when combined by chewing or cutting, produces sulforaphane – potentially the most potent disease-countering food-derived chemical known.

Cooking broccoli destroys sulforaphane-producing activity, she said, adding: “the logical option is to produce powdered broccoli sprout through specialised technology designed to promote an optimal sulforaphane yield. As the science of this remarkable compound continues to unfold, it has become imperative that it be conveniently available as a functional food or nutraceutical supplement,” she added.

SA health expert Vanessa Ascencao said Bio-Sulforaphane was being launched in SA as a supplement and was one of the most potent and bioavailable forms of the compound available.

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