Eat Your Veggies
I know you’ve heard “you have to eat your veggies”, but have you heard why? There are a lot of important minerals and nutrients in vegetables and I’d like to highlight one in particular today and that is sulforaphane. Sulforaphane has been frequently studied in the past 20 years and scientists have discovered that it seems to have a wide range of biological effects including antioxidant, antimicrobial, anticancer, anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, neuroprotective, and antidiabetic.(1) That’s a pretty impressive resume for one nutrient. Definitely gets my attention and makes me wonder how I can get plenty of that in my diet.
The good news is that sulforaphane is pretty plentiful in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale and arugula. Michael Greger in “How Not to Die” recommends eating some of those foods raw every week and also cutting it up and letting it set for 15-20 minutes before consuming to allow for more sulforaphane to be produced, because the catch is – sulforaphane is not contained in cruciferous vegetables, it is produced when we chew and mix stuff together. (2) Cooking destroys the enzyme needed to make the conversion to produce sulforaphane so consuming some raw is important.
This can be as easy as sprinkling ground mustard seed on your steamed broccoli or adding some arugula to our salad and eating that with cabbage. There may be an added benefit to consuming broccoli as sprouts because young sprouted broccoli seeds with 3-7 days’ growth have been shown to contain the highest levels of the compounds needed to create sulforaphane. (3) Adding them to wraps and salads is an easy way to increase your intake of this important nutrient. An added benefit is that many of the vegetables in the cruciferous family are also low carb so we can add a considerable amount of these low impact foods and still reap the benefit of a low carb diet.
- Kim, Jae Kwang, and Sang Un Park. “Current potential health benefits of sulforaphane.” EXCLI journal vol. 15 571-577. 13 Oct. 2016, doi:10.17179/excli2016-485
- Greger, Michael. How Not to Die. New York. Flatiron Books. 2015
- Houghton, Christine A. “Sulforaphane: Its “Coming of Age” as a Clinically Relevant Nutraceutical in the Prevention and Treatment of Chronic Disease.” Oxidative medicine and cellular longevity vol. 2019 2716870. 14 Oct. 2019, doi:10.1155/2019/2716870