What you will learn in this article:
- What are sprouts?
- What’s so amazing about sulforaphane in broccoli sprouts?
- Why not just each broccoli?
- How to grow broccoli sprouts
- How to triple sulforaphane in broccoli sprouts
- How much to eat of broccoli sprouts
- How to each broccoli sprouts + our recipes
Many of the Hormones Balance recipes (including my cookbook Cooking for Hormone Balance) include broccoli sprouts. In this article, I will show you why I make them such an important part of our culinary protocols.
You will discover the incredible medicinal benefits of broccoli sprouts, how to triple their sulforaphane content, and tips for making sprouts at home. If you are short on time, you can simply purchase broccoli sprouts at the health store, already sprouted and prepared.
What are sprouts?
When a seed, nut, bean or grain is germinated with water and it begins to grow, it becomes a sprout. The germination starts a growing process, which aids in the digestibility of the bean, seed or grain and brings a flood of enzymes into each individual sprout.
When sprouting a dry bean or seed, it will transform from a dry, hard ball into a wonderful array of vitamins, minerals, and proteins that are much easier for the body to digest and use.
The great news is they are really easy to sprout at home for relatively little cost. Once ready, they are a great addition to salads, can be used as a garnish on any meal, or can add a lovely crunch to soup. More on that below.
What’s so amazing about sulforaphane in broccoli sprouts?
Sulforaphane is what makes broccoli sprouts special among all the sprouts. Sulforaphane is a chemical compound found in all cruciferous vegetables including adult broccoli but its concentration is much higher in broccoli sprouts.
Here are some of its amazing benefits.
#1 It improves estrogen dominance
Sulforaphane is a potent antioxidant that helps with estrogen metabolism. This is huge because “estrogen dominance” is not just the function of too much estrogen but poorly metabolized estrogen (what I often refer to as “dirty” estrogen) – and this is where sulforaphane can help skew estrogen metabolism from “dirty” to “clean” estrogens.
Symptoms of estrogen dominance include PMS, fibrocystic and lumpy breasts, ER+ breast cancer, thyroid nodules, infertility, miscarriages, hip fat and cellulite, fibroids and endometriosis – are just some of them. I’ve written more about estrogen dominance in this article.
Sulforaphane in broccoli sprouts can help relieve estrogen dominance symptoms in as little as a few days.
#2 It can shrink breast cancer cells
Medical research has shown that broccoli sprouts can prevent and even shrink estrogenic breast cancers in women because sulforaphane acts as a killer of cancer stem cells.
This study has shown that sulforaphane causes programmed “self-death” of breast cancer cells.
The beautiful thing is: Unlike allopathic medications (such as Tamoxifen), broccoli sprouts and sulforaphane give the patient no debilitating side effects.
For these reasons, broccoli sprouts are used in most integrative oncology centers that treat estrogenic cancers such as breast, ovarian and uterine cancers.
#3 It detoxifies the liver
Sulforaphane is also rich in glucosinolate, a sulfur-rich compound that supports liver detoxification and reduces menopause symptoms.
How to grow your own broccoli sprouts
Sprouting is easy and can be done at home for very little cost.
Always use filtered water with no chlorine or fluoride for sprouting. The most common reasons sprouts develop mold are poor ventilation and not being rinsed enough.
Makes: 2 cups sprouts
Prep time: 10 minutes
Growing time: 4 to 5 days
1-quart mason jar, fine-mesh strainer, cheesecloth (100 percent cotton) or coffee filter, rubber band, large bowl
2 tablespoons sprouting broccoli seeds
Filtered water (be sure it contains no fluoride)
- Wash the mason jar with regular soap (do not use antibacterial soap), and sterilize it with boiling water.
- Add the seeds to the jar and fill it with a few inches of water. Soak the seeds for 6 to 12 hours.
- Drain the seeds in the strainer, rinse well, and drain again.
- Return the seeds to the mason jar. Cover the jar with cheesecloth and secure with an elastic band.
- Place the jar at a 45-degree angle in a well-ventilated place, ideally between 68°F and 72°F.
- Drain and rinse the sprouts every 12 hours. Strain well each time so little to no water is left in the jar.
- When sprouts reach 1 to 1 1/2 inches in length, place them in a large bowl of water. Gently swirl them so the seed shells separate and float to the top. Scoop up and discard the shells.
- Place a paper towel in an airtight container, transfer the well-rinsed sprouts to the container, seal, and keep in the refrigerator.
Sprouts keep well in the refrigerator for up to a week.
How to triple sulforaphane in broccoli sprouts?
This fascinating study published by the Journal of Food, Science and Technology showed that heating the sprouts to 70℃ or 158℉, increases the formation of sulforaphane by 3.5 times.
In this video, I’m demonstrating how I triple the amount of sulforaphane in broccoli sprouts using this simple kitchen method.
In short, the steps are:
- Boil 3 1/4 cups of water and transfer to a larger Pyrex dish.
- Add 3/4 cup of room temperature water.
- Optional: If you have a thermometer, check to see if your water temperature is 70℃ or 158℉. It’s an optional step because I’ve tested the above steps, so you should be good.
- Submerge the broccoli sprouts into the water. Cover and let them stand for 10 minutes.
- Strain and either use right away or refrigerate for up to a week.
I’ve found the best way to store sprouts without them going moldy is by placing a paper towel at the bottom of a glass container and wrapping the sprouts with more paper towel on top. The paper towel will absorb the moisture – keeping them fresher for longer.
Why not just eat broccoli?
You can and should eat broccoli as well – it just does not contain as much sulforaphane per gram as broccoli sprouts do. Depending on the source, where it’s grown etc, broccoli sprouts can contain as much as 17 to 30 times more sulforaphane.
How much broccoli sprouts to eat?
The therapeutic dose of broccoli sprouts can be viewed as a maintenance dose and a treatment dose. In functional oncology, women with active ER+ breast cancer are recommended to eat 1 cup of broccoli sprouts a day. The maintenance dose is ½ cup a day.
It’s interesting to know that sulforaphane is not present in an intact vegetable and only gets activated when broccoli tissue is crushed or chewed. See our suggestions below how to make broccoli sprouts a bigger part of your diet.
Is there a supplement?
Consistency is key when it comes to seeing results and the same applies to regularly taking sulforaphane to see the results.
I personally eat sprouts 2 to 3 times/week unless I am traveling and won’t have the time or place to heat up the sprouts. This is when taking sulforaphane in a supplement form can help you to stay consistent.
Our Brocco Power is standardized to contain 8% sulforaphane glucosinolate using supercritical CO2 extraction of broccoli seed and no chemical solvents are used in the extraction. The potency of sulforaphane available in one capsule is equivalent to consuming 500 grams (17.5 ounces) of fresh broccoli or 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of sprouts.
Broccoli sprouts and your thyroid
There is unjustified fear and misinformation about cruciferous vegetables in the thyroid webosphere – mostly created by bloggers copying-pasting content from each other without fact-checking.
It is a big disservice to the thyroid community because the truth is that cruciferous vegetables do not hurt the thyroid – they actually help it.
How? Sprouts and crucifers greatly support liver detoxification (which is critical in thyroid health and conversion of T4 to T3 hormone) but also in reversing estrogen dominance which is one of the factors that interferes with T4 to T3 conversion as well.
Renowned thyroid experts such as Dr. Izabella Wentz and Dr. Kharrazian are on the same page: Cruciferous vegetables WILL NOT destroy your thyroid and they DO recommend eating them. I have written more about this topic in this article.
How to eat broccoli sprouts + our recipes
As mentioned above: Sulforaphane is not present in an intact vegetable and only gets activated when broccoli tissue is crushed or chewed. You can add broccoli sprouts to salads, soups (just be sure you chew them well), smoothies (my favorite way) or just munch on them – although it has an acquired taste.
If you have any other ideas on how to use broccoli sprouts in our cooking, share them in the comments below this article.