The most powerful natural inducer of our liver’s detoxifying enzyme system is sulforaphane, a phytonutrient produced by broccoli.
There’s lots of talk these days about detoxing, but talk is cheap—our liver is actually doing it, all day every day, and if we want to detoxify, the best thing we can do is boost our liver’s own detoxifying enzymes … and sulforaphane is the most potent natural phase 2 enzyme-inducer known. That’s one of our livers’ detoxication systems. So where do we find this stuff? Broccoli, which produces more than any other known plant in the world
In micromoles per gram seed fresh weight broccoli’s #1, then kohlrabi, and cauliflower gets the bronze. It’s interesting, broccoli raab… which is all gourmet, expensive. Is it worth the extra price? No, broccoli raab produces about 500 times less than broccoli…
Broccoli is an exceptional source of sulforaphane, but at the same, there’s none actually in the vegetable… until, you bite it.
You know those chemical flares, or glow sticks, where you snap them and chemicals in two different compartments mix and sets off a reaction? Broccoli does the same thing. In one part of the cell it keeps an enzyme myrosinase, and in another part it keeps something called glucoraphanin. There is no ≈, which is what we want, anywhere in in broccoli—until some herbivore starts chewing on the poor thing.
Cells get crushed, the enzyme mixes with the glucoraphanin, which is a type of glucosinolate, and sulforaphane is born and the herbivore is like, ew, this tastes like broccoli and runs away. The plant uses it as a defense against nibblers and noshers. Little did broccoli count on a little lemon juice and some garlic, maybe a little tahini dressing. It’s our counterattack.
Just make sure to chew, otherwise you won’t get as much of that magical mixture. In this study they had people just swallow broccoli sprouts whole, day 1 and got some action—obviously their stomach stepped in and did a little churning, but on day three when they actually got to chew their sprouts, you can see significantly more got absorbed into their bodies.
Chew it or lose it.
To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.
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This "glow stick" reaction is similar to what happens in garlic. I talked about it in #14 of my Ask the Doctor Q&A blog. There is a level at which sulforaphane may become toxic, but that appears to be only at extremely high doses (see Liver Toxicity Due to Broccoli Juice and How Much Broccoli Is Too Much?). Watch my 18 other videos on liver health, as well as hundreds of other videos on more than a thousand subjects. Note that most of the sources for this video are open access, so you can download them by clicking on the links above in the Sources Cited section.
For more context, check out my associated blog posts: Fighting Inflammation with Food Synergy, The Best Detox Antioxidants in a Pinch: Dried Herbs and Spices, Stool Size and Breast Cancer Risk, Breast Cancer Survival and Soy, Breast Cancer Stem Cells vs. Broccoli, The Best Detox, Treating PMS with Saffron, Eating Green to Prevent Cancer, and Are Microgreens Healthier?