Broccoli Sprouts vs. Supplements: Which is Better?

After my wife, Mara, got breast cancer, I read about how amazing sulforaphane was for health.  I found a trusted brand and spent over $2,500 on broccoli supplements for my wife’s cancer regimen thinking I had purchased sulforaphane.  I thought this because the supplement was labeled as sulforaphane glucosinolate.  Certainly, that’s sulforaphane isn’t it? Wrong.   I found out later that this isn’t sulforaphane at all, but rather the precursor molecule to sulforaphane, glucoraphanin.

About 99% of broccoli supplements contain the precursor chemical to sulforaphane called glucoraphanin.  When glucoraphanin is combined with the enzyme myrosinase, it gets converted to the good chemical, sulforaphane, that has all the amazing health benefits.  Glucoraphanin is stable, which is why it’s placed on a shelf as a supplement.  Sulforaphane is historically unstable and would degrade quickly if it were used in supplement form. 

After finding out about this, we quickly stopped using this and shifted to growing broccoli sprouts to juice daily because it was clear that the glucoraphanin supplement wasn’t giving her all the benefits that we read about in the literature.

Many years later, I stumbled across this article which showed me why.  While the broccoli supplement companies that peddle glucoraphanin says that there is a 20-40% conversion into sulforaphane once ingested, the fact is that it’s much less.  Worst still, the amount of sulforaphane that is converted isn’t near enough to make a biological difference.

In a paper published in 2011 by researchers at Oregon State and the Linus Pauling Institute, researchers showed that glucoraphanin in supplement form yielded significantly less sulforaphane in the blood than a comparable amount of glucoraphanin in broccoli sprouts, as seen in the figure below.

Here, the researchers used 6 capsules or 3 times the supplement serving size or recommended dosage of the glucoraphanin supplement to get approximately 0.3 micro mole plasma concentration of sulforaphane.  In contrast, the broccoli sprouts ingested yielded a 2.2 micro mole plasma concentration of sulforaphane.

Sprouts led to almost 7 times more sulforaphane in the blood plasma than the glucoraphanin supplements. 

When I was growing sprouts for my wife, that was the best method at the time to get sulforaphane.  It’s labor intensive, but relatively cheap.  When we discovered that we had stabilized sulforaphane, my wife knew that we had to get it out to people because it could be a tremendous game-changer in their health. 

So, the conclusion of this is that: 1) If you really need sulforaphane at a certain dosage to promote your wellness, then use BrocElite. 

2) If you’re on a tight budget or are healthy and don’t need a certain sulforaphane dose, then grow sprouts.

3) And if you’re taking a glucoraphanin supplement, even at three times the dose, you are likely not getting the sulforaphane you need to make a biological difference, so don’t waste your money.   


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