I’ve recently dedicated a whole day to understanding the benefits and importance of sulforaphane. Dr. Rhonda Patrick provides a comprehensive and detailed examination of sulforaphane and its effects on cancer, ageing, inflammation, depression, cardiovascular disease, and neurodegenerative diseases in her informative video.

The video is rich with references to both human and animal studies. I’m going to embed the video below for you to watch. Additionally, I’ll list all the studies she references, link them to the respective papers, and summarise the key points of each. This should give you a good understanding, in case you’re not up for reading the entire article.

Key Points:

  1. Production of Sulforaphane: Sulforaphane is produced when glucoraphanin, its precursor, is broken down, releasing the enzyme myrosinase. This can occur through crushing, chewing, light heating, blending, or even freezing.
  2. Sources of Glucoraphanin: Glucoraphanin is found in cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and mustard. Notably, broccoli sprouts and microgreens contain much higher levels, up to 100 times more.
  3. NRF2 Pathway Activation: Sulforaphane activates the NRF2 pathway, which controls over 200 genes, including those with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and those that neutralise harmful compounds. Interestingly, this pathway is naturally activated in the body every 129 minutes, but sulforaphane reduces this to every 80 minutes.
  4. Reduced Cancer and Heart Disease Risk: Regular consumption of cruciferous vegetables, about 1-2 servings (1/2-1 cup) per day, is associated with a lower risk of various cancers and cardiovascular diseases, likely due to isothiocyanates, including sulforaphane.
  5. Detoxification and DNA Protection: Sulforaphane is linked to the inhibition of Phase 1 Biotransformation Enzymes, which can convert pro-carcinogenic compounds into active carcinogens. It also activates Phase II Detoxification Enzymes, aiding in deactivating these compounds and making them water-soluble for easier excretion. Additionally, it helps prevent DNA adducts, a form of DNA damage leading to cancer.
  6. Anti-Ageing Benefits and More: Sulforaphane may slow the ageing process by reducing inflammation, a key factor in ageing affecting physical ability and cognitive function. In one study, it reversed hair loss in mice. In other animal studies, sulforaphane showed positive effects on Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s diseases, all associated with brain inflammation and oxidative stress.

In short, if you haven’t already focused on incorporating sulforaphane into your diet, it’s time to start. Eat more cruciferous vegetables and consider adding broccoli sprouts or microgreens to your diet. After doing my research and watching Dr. Rhonda Patrick’s video, I’ve committed to having broccoli microgreens daily in my morning smoothie. I keep a live tray on the bench next to my smoothie machine and chuck in a big handful.

Dr. Rhonda Patrick – Sulforaphane and Its Effects on Cancer, Mortality, Aging, Brain and Behavior, Heart Disease, & More

I counted a total of 59 references presented in the video. Here they are for those interested in some further bed-time reading.

  1. Cruciferous vegetable consumption is associated with a reduced risk of total and cardiovascular disease mortality
  2. Fruit and vegetable intakes and prostate cancer risk.
  3. Fruit and vegetable intake and incidence of bladder cancer in a male prospective cohort.
  4. Cruciferous vegetable intake is inversely associated with lung cancer risk among smokers: a case-control study.
  5. Meta-analysis of studies on breast cancer risk and diet in Chinese women.
  6. Greater vegetable and fruit intake is associated with a lower risk of breast cancer among Chinese women.
  7. Cruciferous vegetables and cancer risk in a network of case-control studies.
  8. Brassica Vegetables and Breast Cancer Risk.
  9. Intake of Cruciferous Vegetables Modifies Bladder Cancer Survival.
  10. Inhibition of urinary bladder carcinogenesis by broccoli sprouts.
  11. Effect of Sulforaphane in Men with Biochemical Recurrence after Radical Prostatectomy.
  12. A phase II study of sulforaphane-rich broccoli sprout extracts in men with recurrent prostate cancer.
  13. Preclinical and clinical evaluation of sulforaphane for chemoprevention in the breast.
  14. Sulforaphane, a dietary component of broccoli/broccoli sprouts, inhibits breast cancer stem cells.
  15. Sulforaphane and related mustard oils in focus of cancer prevention and therapy.
  16. Consumption of Brussels sprouts results in elevated alpha-class glutathione S-transferase levels in human blood plasma.
  17. Reduction of oxidative DNA-damage in humans by brussels sprouts.
  18. Rapid and sustainable detoxication of airborne pollutants by broccoli sprout beverage: results of a randomized clinical trial in China.
  19. Ultrafine particulate matter and high-level benzene urban air pollution in relation to oxidative DNA damage.
  20. Changes in DNA methylation patterns in subjects exposed to low-dose benzene.
  21. Oral Sulforaphane increases Phase II antioxidant enzymes in the human upper airway.
  22. Modulation of the metabolism of airborne pollutants by glucoraphanin-rich and sulforaphane-rich broccoli sprout beverages in Qidong, China.
  23. Effects of watercress consumption on metabolism of a tobacco-specific lung carcinogen in smokers.
  24. GSTT 1 genotype modifies the association between cruciferous vegetable intake and the risk of myocardial infarction
  25. Fruits and Vegetables Consumption and Risk of Stroke.
  26. Broccoli sprouts powder could improve serum triglyceride and oxidized LDL/LDL-cholesterol ratio in type 2 diabetic patients: a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial.
  27. Phase 1 study of multiple biomarkers for metabolism and oxidative stress after one-week intake of broccoli sprouts.
  28. Sulforaphane Inhibits TNF-α-Induced Adhesion Molecule Expression Through the Rho A/ROCK/NF-κB Signaling Pathway.
  29. Longevity in the red flour beetle Tribolium castaneum is enhanced by broccoli and depends on nrf-2, jnk-1 and foxo-1 homologous genes.
  30. Chronic inflammation induces telomere dysfunction and accelerates ageing in mice.
  31. Nrf2 and NF-κB modulation by sulforaphane counteracts multiple manifestations of diabetic neuropathy in rats and high glucose-induced changes.
  32. Cruciferous vegetables have variable effects on biomarkers of systemic inflammation in a randomized controlled trial in healthy young adults.
  33. Effects of broccoli sprout with high sulforaphane concentration on inflammatory markers in type 2 diabetic patients: A randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial.
  34. Cruciferous vegetable intake is inversely correlated with circulating levels of proinflammatory markers in women.
  35. Sulforaphane promotes murine hair growth by accelerating the degradation of dihydrotestosterone.
  36. Sulforaphane treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
  37. An Open Study of Sulforaphane-rich Broccoli Sprout Extract in Patients with Schizophrenia.
  38. Changes in oxidative stress markers in patients with schizophrenia: the effect of antipsychotic drugs.
  39. The role of inflammation in depression: from evolutionary imperative to modern treatment target.
  40. Association of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein with de novo major depression.
  41. Increased serum IL-6 and IL-1 receptor antagonist concentrations in major depression and treatment resistant depression.
  42. Nrf2 participates in depressive disorders through an anti-inflammatory mechanism.
  43. Sulforaphane produces antidepressant- and anxiolytic-like effects in adult mice.
  44. Role of Keap1-Nrf2 signaling in depression and dietary intake of glucoraphanin confers stress resilience in mice.
  45. Amelioration of Alzheimer’s disease by neuroprotective effect of sulforaphane in animal model.
  46. Neuroprotective effect of sulforaphane in 6-hydroxydopamine-lesioned mouse model of Parkinson’s disease.
  47. Sulforaphane enhances proteasomal and autophagic activities in mice and is a potential therapeutic reagent for Huntington’s disease.
  48. Sulforaphane activates heat shock response and enhances proteasome activity through up-regulation of Hsp27.
  49. Heat shock transcription factor 1 as a therapeutic target in neurodegenerative diseases.
  50. Sulforaphane improves cognitive function administered following traumatic brain injury.
  51. Sulforaphane reduces infarct volume following focal cerebral ischemia in rodents.
  52. Sulforaphane Prevents Neuronal Apoptosis and Memory Impairment in Diabetic Rats.
  53. Sulforaphane alleviates muscular dystrophy in mdx mice by activation of Nrf2.
  54. Sulforaphane causes a major epigenetic repression of myostatin in porcine satellite cells.
  55. Protection of humans by plant glucosinolates: efficiency of conversion of glucosinolates to isothiocyanates by the gastrointestinal microflora.
  56. Sulforaphane absorption and excretion following ingestion of a semi-purified broccoli powder rich in glucoraphanin and broccoli sprouts in healthy men.
  57. The potential to intensify sulforaphane formation in cooked broccoli (Brassica oleracea var. italica) using mustard seeds (Sinapis alba).
  58. Heating decreases epithiospecifier protein activity and increases sulforaphane formation in broccoli.
  59. Safety, tolerance, and metabolism of broccoli sprout glucosinolates and isothiocyanates: a clinical phase I study.