What is Sulforaphane?
Sulforaphane is a phytochemical (a compound found in plants).
It belongs to a group of phytochemicals called isothiocyanates.
Sulforaphane is the main isothiocyanate that comes from broccoli.
Where does Sulforaphane come from?
Sulforaphane doesn’t exist in the growing plant but is formed by a chemical reaction when the plant is cut or chopped and its cell walls are broken.
First, let’s start where it all begins:
Why is Glucoraphanin so Important?
Glucosinolates are the compounds in cruciferous vegetable plants that are responsible for the strong smell.
There is a special glucosinolate called glucoraphanin
Glucoraphanin is the pre-cursor to sulforaphane.
It is glucoraphanin that produces sulforaphane.
So How Does Glucoraphanin Produce Sulforaphane?
Glucoraphanin is inert (does not react) in the vegetable as it grows naturally,
BUT when the vegetable cell walls are broken, this is when the magic happens.
As the vegetable is chewed or juiced, glucoraphanin is released and comes into contact with an enzyme called myrosinase, which then forms sulforaphane, which is absorbed into the blood.
It is the reaction of glucoraphanin with myrosinase that produces sulforaphane
See diagram below
Who Discovered Sulforaphane?
Sulforaphane’s properties as an anti-cancer phytochemical were discovered in 1992 by Paul Talalay the Director of the Laboratory for Molecular Pharmacology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and his co-worker, Jed Fahey. The findings made front page news on The New York Times and have been widely reported such as this news article since then.
Paul Talalay and Jed Fahey’s discovery more than 25 years ago inspired many other scientists to investigate sulforaphane. To date, there have been more than 1300 research studies conducted on sulforaphane. One of the biggest advocates for sulforaphane is Dr Rhonda Patrick who is a scientist with a Ph.D. in biomedical science and who has done extensive research on aging, cancer and nutrition. Here you can watch her interviewing Jed Fahey on sulforaphane.
HPP-treated broccoli sprout juice has been shown to be the very best source of sulforaphane.