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Sulforaphane to Boost Liver Health

Updated: Feb 22

In this video I read from Dr. Greger's book titled 'How Not to Die' in the chapter titled 'Cruciferous Vegetables on page 304. This video addresses the somewhat miraculous compound called Sulforaphane, which is responsible for boosting your liver detox enzymes. It is found almost exclusively in cruciferous vegetables and needs to be cooked/prepared properly to be processed by your body.

Main Points:

  • Sulforaphane is a compound found exclusively in cruciferous vegetables and it does wonders for your health, but you need to cook/prepare your crucifers properly to get its benefits.

  • Sprinkle honey mustard powder onto your broccoli/cruciferous vegetables to get the benefits of sulforaphane.

  • The sulforaphane precursor needs to mix with the enzyme myrosinase to produce sulforaphane. Myrosinase is inactivated by heat, so it's destroyed when you boil it. However, the sulforaphane precursor is resistant to heat. So you can still boil broccoli and get sulforaphane so long as you sprinkle honey mustard seed onto it because mustard greens carry the enzyme myrosinase.

Excerpt (as read in video above):

I've mentioned broccoli more than any other food in this book, and for good reason. We've seen how cruciferous vegetables like broccoli can potentially prevent DNA damage and metastatic cancer spread and chapter two, activate defenses against pathogens and pollutants in chapter five, help to prevent lymphoma in chapter nine, boost your liver detox enzymes and target breast cancer stem cells in chapter 11, and reduce the risk of prostate cancer progression in chapter 13. The component responsible for these benefits is thought to be sulforaphane, which is formed almost exclusively in cruciferous vegetables.

Beyond being a promising anticancer agent, sulforaphane may also help protect your brain and your eyesight, reduce nasal allergy inflammation, manage type 2 diabetes, and was recently found to successfully help treat autism.

The formation of sulforaphane in cruciferous vegetables is like a chemical flare reaction. It requires the mixing of a precursor compound with an enzyme called myrosinase, which is inactivated by cooking (though microwave broccoli appears to retain some cancer fighting capacity). This may explain why we see dramatic suppression of test-tube cancer cell growth by raw broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts, but hardly any reaction when they're cooked. But who wants to eat raw brussel sprouts? Not me. Thankfully, there are ways to get the benefits of raw vegetables in cooked form.

Biting into broccoli is like snapping that chemical flair. When a raw broccoli or any other cruciferous vegetable is chopped, or chewed, the sulforaphane precursor mixes with the myrosinase enzyme and sulforaphane is created as the vegetable sits on the cutting board or lies in your upper stomach waiting to be digested. Though the enzyme is destroyed by cooking, both the precursor and the final product are resistant to heat. So here's the trick: Use what I call the "Hack and Hold" technique.

If you chop the broccoli (or brussels sprouts, kale, collards, cauliflower or any other cruciferous vegetable) and then wait 40 minutes, you can cook it as much as you want. At that point. This sulforaphane has already been made, so the enzyme is no longer needed to achieve maximum benefit. It's already done its job. You can also buy bags of fresh greens and other crucifers that are pre-chopped or shredded, which can presumably be cooked immediately.

Given this understanding. Can you see how most people prepare broccoli soup incorrectly? Typically, they first cook the broccoli and then blend it. But, when you blend it, you're merely mixing the precursor with an enzyme that's been inactivated by cooking. Do it in the opposite order. First, blend your veggies and then wait 40 minutes before cooking them. This way, you can maximize sulforaphane production.

What about frozen broccoli and other crucifers? Commercially produced frozen broccoli lacks the ability to form sulforaphane because the vegetables are blanched (flash-cooked) before they're frozen for the very purpose of deactivating enzymes. This process prolong shelf life, but when you take the veggies out of your freezer, the enzyme is inert. At that point, it doesn't matter how much you chop or how long you wait. No sulforaphane is going to be made. This may be why fresh kale has been shown to suppress cancer cell growth in vitro up to 10 times better than frozen kale.

The frozen crucifer is still packed with a precursor, though -- remember, it's heat resistant. You can make lots of sulforaphane from it by adding back some enzymes. But where can you get myrosinase? Scientists buy theirs from chemical companies, but you can just walk into any grocery store. Mustard greens are also cruciferous vegetables. They grow from mustard seeds, which you can buy ground up in the spice aisle as mustard powder. If you sprinkled some mustard powder on frozen broccoli that's been cooked, would it start churning out sulforaphane? Yes!

Boiling broccoli prevents the formation of any significant levels of sulforaphane due to inactivation of the enzyme. However, the addition of powdered mustard seeds to cooked broccoli significantly increases sulforaphane formation, then it's almost as good as eating it raw. So if you don't have 40 minutes to spare between chopping and cooking, or if you're using frozen greens, just sprinkle the cruciferous with some mustard powder before you eat them and you'll be all set. Daikon radishes, regular radishes, horseradish, and wasabi are all cruciferous vegetables and may have the same effect. All it appears to take is a pinch to revitalize sulforaphane production. You can also add a small amount of fresh greens to your cooked greens. So when I add in shreds of purple cabbage to my finished dishes, it not only adds a beautiful garnish with a delightful crunch, it's filled with the sulforaphane producing enzyme.

One of my first tasks every morning used to be chopping greens for the day using my hacking old technique. But now with the Mustard Powder Plan, I have one less to do on my list.

End of Excerpt

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