Sulforaphane (SFN) is a compound found in cruciferous veggies such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and kale. It has been shown to stop tumors from growing in mice (1), it helps our bodies defend itself against reactive oxygen species (2), and has anticonvulsant/epileptic effects by protecting the brain. SFN has been shown to enhance mitochondrial (the energy making part of the cell) function and it significantly decreases inflammation(3), both of which are linked to the aging process.
SFN and Tumor Suppression
When mice were fed SFN, within 6 hours, there was a positive genetic change in the colon tumor cells. There was a 50% reduction in the cancer cells ability to replicate itself. Further, dietary SFN in mice for 10 weeks resulted in suppressed tumor multiplicity as compared to mice fed a control diet. After the 10 weeks, the average tumor yield was lowered by 50% in all regions of the intestine. Based on this data, it is reasonable to say the SFN rich foods, namely cruciferous vegetables, have anti cancer effects.
SFN as an Anticonvulsant and Mitochondrial Supporter
SFN has been shown to active nuclear factor erythroid-2 (Nrf2). This is worthy because NrF2 proteins regulate the cell’s capacity to defend its DNA from oxidative damage. NrF2 activation can occur in brain tissue, where oxidative damage occurs, thereby protecting the tissue. SFN treatment reduced the extent of brain damage in post-epileptic state 24 hours after the epileptic episode and protected the brain’s mitochondria. SFN has been shown to protect our mitochondria! Mitochondria decline is associated with normal aging and is correlated with the development of a wide range of age-related disease (4).
SFN and Inflammation
40 healthy overweight people were given 30 g of SFN everyday for 10 weeks with a follow up phase of 10 weeks without SFN. There was a significant decrease in inflammatory markers IL-6 and CRP. Elevated IL-6 and CRP are indicators of inflammation, and chronic, low-grade inflammation is a risk factor for the development of age-related diseases\ and frailty (5).
Yet another reason, or many reasons, to include broccoli, kale, cauliflower, mustard greens, watercress, and all the other cruciferous veggies into your diet. The research speaks for itself.