Imagine you’re about to be dropped off on a deserted island for a year and you can only bring the seeds for one vegetable.
Which would you choose?
Well, if you’re looking to significantly increase your body’s ability to fight cancer cells, there’s a clear winner: broccoli seeds.
The consumption of broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables has long been linked to reduced rates of cancer in epidemiological studies, and recent research is showing that one of the compounds in broccoli may hold the key to optimizing the body’s ability to ward of cancer.
And in just a minute, I’ll show you how you can get up to 30 times the cancer-busting benefits of broccoli without eating a single floret (and no, it’s not by taking a supplement).
Broccoli contains a compound called glucoraphanin, which is a precursor to a compound called sulforaphane.
Sulforaphane has strong anti-cancer properties and works against cancer in two ways.
First, it helps block the initiation of cancer by inhibiting the metabolism of procarcinogenic substances into carcinogens. That means it helps stop those could-be cancerous substances from becoming cancerous. Sulforaphane also helps the body detoxify carcinogenic substances and excrete them from the body.
And second, if cancer has already begun to grow in the body, sulforaphane can help shut it down by modulating cell growth and cell death.
Sulforaphane has been shown in in vitro studies to have anti-cancer effects against prostate, breast, colon, and urinary cancer cells. Most importantly, it has been shown to inhibit cancer stem cells.
The stem cells are the parent cells of cancer, and if they are not destroyed, the chances of the cancer returning are high. Most conventional cancer treatments, including radiation and some forms of chemotherapy, do not affect cancer stems cells.
Compounds that can inhibit or kill cancer stem cells are the best defense in the fight against cancer.
And that’s good news. But when researchers tried to calculate the amount of broccoli one would have to eat to have a significant amount of protection against cancer, they found that it would take about two pounds per week.
And that’s raw broccoli, since cooking can destroy the enzymes that are necessary for sulforaphane to be absorbed in the body.
The thought of that much raw broccoli makes my stomach groan. Not because I don’t like broccoli, but because it’s quite hard to digest in its raw state.
(Fun fact: Tom “Broccoli” Landers holds the world record for eating a pound of raw broccoli in just 92 seconds. I’d want to be far, far away from Mr. Landers about an hour or two after that competition.)
But there’s a much easier way to get all the cancer-busting benefit of broccoli without having to stuff yourself with it every day: broccoli sprouts!
Broccoli sprouts may actually be even more powerful for fighting cancer than mature broccoli, as they are extremely rich in glucoraphanin. In fact, just 5 grams of broccoli sprouts contain the same amount of glucoraphanin as 150 grams of mature broccoli.
With broccoli spouts, just a few tablespoons a couple of times a week is enough to offer significant protection.
Broccoli sprouts have also been shown to help protect against gastritis (stomach inflammation) caused by H. pylori infection, and may also help protect the skin against UV radiation.
Though you can find sprouts in the grocery store, they are very easy to grow. I’ve been growing sprouts every couple of weeks for the past year, and all it takes is about 60 seconds a day.
First, you’ll need a bowl, a mason jar, some sprouting seeds, and a sprouting lid that fits the mason jar. You can also use a reusable coffee filter instead of a sprouting lid.
The seeds in the jar are for a mixture of broccoli, alfalfa, and other plants. The package is all broccoli seeds.
First, put about a tablespoon of the seeds into the jar and cover them with water. Let them sit in the water for about eight hours.
Then, drain the water and rinse the sprouts. Prop the mason jar in the bowl like so:
These are the sprouts after about two days. You’ll notice the little white roots starting to emerge
Twice a day, rinse the sprouts by filling the jar through the sprouting lid and draining the water. Then prop it in the bowl again. Keep the sprout jar on your counter, but not in direct sunlight.
After about five-seven days, you’ll have a decent amount of sprouts:
On the day before you want to use them, put them in a sunny window to help them get greener.
To store them, I like to take the sprouts out of the jar, leaving them attached to the lid, and let them sit on the counter for a couple hours to dry out just a bit. Then I carefully remove them from the lid and put them in a storage container that’s been lined with a paper towel.
And voila! You just grew you own cancer-fighting superfood.
You can use the sprouts in your morning omelet, on your salad, or even just by themselves as a side with your dinner. They taste pretty neutral, not nearly as strong as mature broccoli.
To living well,