Growing up, we would have heard our mums say that veggies are good for us. Depending on which end of the veggies “love-hate” spectrum we were, many of us would have then tried to do the right thing by including a portion of greens on our plates during mealtimes. At the back of our minds, we always knew that mum was right.
While mum was indeed right all along in getting us to eat our greens, it is hard to ignore that Mother Nature still has much more potent power in store for us in her armour, just waiting to be tapped.
Cruciferous veggies in particular — such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and kale — while generally associated with providing a reduced cancer risk in humans, are not always consumed at sufficient levels to bring about a real and lasting change in our health.
To address this, a 2013 review investigated whether the full potential of one of these crucifers — the not-so-popular broccoli — is being effectively utilised for the benefit of human health.
Taking a closer look at the broccoli (and its sprouts)
Although broccoli is known to be one of the most nutritious vegetables we can choose, the tiny broccoli sprout is many times more concentrated in the disease-protective molecules that give broccoli its elevated nutrition status.
Lead author of the review and Cell-Logic’s Chief Scientist, Dr Christine Houghton explained that the broccoli’s uniqueness comes in the form of a molecule known as sulforaphane (pronounced Sul-4-a-phane), which is a small sulfur-containing molecule which, over the last two decades, has been explored in a series of lab studies, animal studies and human clinical trials.
“Although a cruciferous plant does not actually contain any sulforaphane itself, it contains two essential compounds, the myrosinase enzyme and glucoraphanin, both of which are needed to yield sulforaphane under the right conditions,” she said.
“When the plant is cut or chewed, the contents of the two compounds combine, producing a chemical reaction that leads to the production of the sulforaphane.”
Benefits of sulforaphane
The real power of this food-derived molecule lies in its ability to activate a chemical switch in our cells called, ‘Nrf2’. When Nrf2 is activated by sulforaphane, it ‘talks to’ our DNA, a step which ‘turns up’ the 2000 or so genes related to the cell’s defence system. This process has widespread beneficial effects in the many cells that make up the human body.
Hence, for a broccoli sprout supplement to establish such bioactivity in the body, it needs to retain both the sulforaphane-yielding glucoraphanin and the myrosinase enzyme.
Importantly, the review noted that many currently-available broccoli sprout supplements are myrosinase-inactive, although their labelling does not reflect this.
This means that these supplements fall short of the benefits that they promise to deliver.
Optimising sulforaphane output
“The ideal product needs to contain a high level of glucoraphanin along with the active myrosinase enzyme which should have been retained through careful processing,” Dr Houghton said.
“Cell-Logic’s flagship product, EnduraCell® BioActive, was a result of the company’s painstaking research into developing an extraordinarily effective and high-yielding supplement. This culminated in a product that retains both its precursor compound glucoraphanin and the active myrosinase enzyme needed to produce sulforaphane.”
As to how EnduraCell works to achieve its maximum impact, Dr Houghton said, “When one swallows the EnduraCell BioActive capsule, the vegetable capsule soon dissolves and the powder becomes moist in the environment of the digestive tract.”
“This moisture starts the myrosinase enzyme reaction, which converts the glucoraphanin to sulforaphane. Stirring the powder into a glass of water has the same effect.”
Unlike many food-derived supplements, sulforaphane is rapidly and almost completely absorbed from the digestive tract. After it enters the cells and bloodstream, it goes to work activating its many protective target genes.