broccoli sprouts vs supplements

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How Do Broccoli Supplements Compare to Sprouts?

Your parents would have been smart to tell you to to “eat your broccoli.” But what about broccoli sprouts? Or broccoli supplements?

There have been a number of randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials on the use of broccoli sprouts as a complementary treatment in diabetes to reduce oxidative stress, inflammation, and insulin resistance and fasting blood sugars.

In my video, Biggest Nutrition Bang for Your Buck, I describe how to grow our own sprouts simply and quickly in five days. New science suggests, though, that it’s even simpler and quicker than I described. If we look at other sprouts, their antioxidant phytonutrients appear to peak around sprouting day five (up to 10-fold higher than day two), but the sulforaphane content in broccoli sprouts appears to peak at around 48 hours, so 2-day-old sprouts may be even better (See Sulforaphane: From Broccoli to Breast).

What if we don’t enjoy eating broccoli or broccoli sprouts but still want the benefits of the broccoli phytonutrients? Do the broccoli supplements on the market work? One group of researchers tested BroccoMax, which boasts a half pound of broccoli’s worth in every capsule. Researchers compared six capsules a day to a cup of broccoli sprouts. In the video, Broccoli: Sprouts vs. Supplements, you can see the spike in broccoli phytonutrients in the bloodstream of those eating sprouts. The cup of broccoli sprouts dramatically outperforms the six capsules at a small fraction of the cost. The researchers conclude that the bioavailability of broccoli phytonutrients is dramatically lower when subjects consume broccoli supplements compared to the whole food.

What’s so great about broccoli sprouts? See: The Best Detox and Sulfurophane: From Broccoli to Breast.

They can be overdone, though. See: How Much Broccoli is Too Much?

More on cruciferous and cancer here:

-Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live year-in-review presentations Uprooting the Leading Causes of DeathMore Than an Apple a DayFrom Table to Able, and Food as Medicine.


Michael Greger M.D., FACLM

Michael Greger, M.D. FACLM, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial.

38 responses to “How Do Broccoli Supplements Compare to Sprouts?

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    1. Yeah that was a WTF article, and then all I saw after getting shafted on content, was please sing up for news letters and subscribe. Seriously how do u expect anyone to give a flying fuck about your content when that’s obviously what your lacking. Soooo confused right now

  1. Welcome everyone to Julieanna Week! Joseph is going to be taking a week to do offline work for us, and so Julieanna Haver, R.D. is stepping in to be’s resident dietician. This is everyone’s opportunity to take advantage of her vast knowledge of how to take all the science and translate it into day-to-day healthier living for your family. We’re just so honored to have her on board this week!

    1. Thank you, Dr. Greger! Excited to be here and love all things cruciferous, as in today’s blog. For those of you who don’t know me, I am known as the Plant-Based Dietitian and I am an author, speaker, and tv host. I work with clients around the world using whole food, plant-based nutrition to help improve their health and performance. I am happy to answer any questions on broccoli or anything related to nutrition, health, and parenting plant eaters…

    2. Thank you, Dr. Greger! Excited to be here and love all things cruciferous, as in today’s blog. For those of you who don’t know me, I am known as the Plant-Based Dietitian and I am an author, speaker, and tv host. I work with clients around the world using whole food, plant-based nutrition to help improve their health and performance. I am happy to answer any questions on broccoli or anything related to nutrition, health, and parenting plant eaters…

      1. Excellent. You are most welcome Julianna. My question is this: When I sprout broccoli at home it comes from reality tiny seeds. I don’t recall if it even has a tail at 48 hours. And organic broccoli seeds are very expensive. Therefore, we are talking about really pricey small amounts of sprouted seeds at 48 hours. Typically, I have just let them grow tails about 1-2 inches long at about 5 days before harvesting, with a typical harvest being about a small handful (1/2 – 3/4 cup). So, exactly how much harvest volume are you talking about for a serving at 48 hours?

        1. How very conscientious of you, Doctor Dave! I am impressed! I would have to ask Dr. Greger about the actual number, but I would recommend not wasting any of those precious nutritious nuggets! I imagine that if you enjoyed your sprouts at 4 or 5 days, you are still going to get a whopping dose of those health-promoting phytonutrients!

      2. Julieanna –

        I would be thrilled to know if you use have used chlorella and if it has been something you include in your diet as well as your regime with others. Thanks.

        1. Funny you mention that, Sandy…I recently purchased some and have taken it a few times. I like the idea of traveling with it when I may not have as much access to all the leafy greens I love to consume. I also will enjoy a green juice occasionally that contains chlorella. Dr. Greger has a nice video here about chlorella being helpful as “tiny little dark leafies.” Do you use it, Sandy?

          1. I have used it and have wondered whether or not it is harmful. SUN CHLORELLA brand claims that there’s has true B12 in it. This got me excited for it. But even a little bit of chlorella constipate me.
            A couple of the times I’ve taken it I have had good energy as result. But have also had other bad side effects other than the constipation.

  2. Sure the pills “outperform” the actual food in blood peak levels. But how does that play out in terms of health. Generally more is only better up to a point and then it gets worse, sometimes in unexpected and very undesirable ways.

    1. I don’t think the the pills ever outperform the food. The article says “the cup of broccoli sprouts dramatically outperforms the six capsules at a fraction of the cost”.

      1. Dr. Jeffery explains that nitriles compete with isothiocyanates for conversion–so that if nitriles, which don’t fight cancer, are formed, then isothiocyanates, which do fight cancer, are not formed. A little heat, she says, will keep nitriles from forming and allow isothiocyanates to prevail.

        1. I am not sure how accurate these statements are, as Dr. Greger has already clarified the nitrites/nitrates issue in several videos.

          Firstly, plant foods contain nitrates, not nitrites.

          Secondly, nitrates are highly beneficial to health and many studies have shown that nitrates, by conversion to nitrites and then nitric oxide, are highly beneficial to arterial health. Vitamin C facilitates this process.

          Lastly, nitrites must be in the presence of fat to form carcinogens. I also do not believe that cooking reduces nitrate content as suggested here.
          “Dietary nitrate is exceptionally well absorbed in the upper gastrointestinal tract [b110], with the bioavailability of nitrate from cooked spinach, raw lettuce and cooked beetroot being ∼100%, with plasma concentrations of nitrate peaking after 1 h [b79], (tmax of 1.5–1.8 h) [b111], and the bioavailability of nitrite, following ingestion of large amounts, being ∼95–98% ”

          Please watch the linked video

  3. I’m an avid sprouter of things when I’m organised, but I tend to grab alfalfa with radish rather than broccoli when I buy them in the shops – because of the flavour…

    I’m slightly non-plussed about (green) broccoli – which will have to wait until retirement when I hope to have a garden big enough to grow the purple variety – which is very expensive in the shops.

    My winter diet includes 500g / 1lb of brussels sprouts near-daily (microwaved in a little water to which I add soup and lentils) – I always use Dijon mustard anyway, but have been shovelling it on religiously since I learned from Dr. Greger about the denaturing of the essential enzyme in the case of broccoli. I do as it happens, halve my sprouts and quite often in advance of cooking.
    I already checked that 500g of brussels sprouts won’t do dodgy things to my thyroid (though the research was done with only 150g per day)

    But what I’m wondering is if I’m getting a decent amount of these phytonutrients this way ?

  4. These days, every time I click the nutritonfacts email, I get a pop up encouraging me to register (which I already have) and it takes a couple of minutes before the cross sgnn appears for me to dismiss the pop up. Thisis becoming increasingly annoying and I am not sure if everyone gets thisoronky peoplwith om criter- either way, it achieves a purpose opposite to the one intened. Since I am already registered, it cannot mak me this does is alienate me and make the pearls of wisdom of this site more cumbersome to access.

    1. gp65: I forwarded your concern to staff at I don’t know what can be done, but I’m sure they will try to help the situation. I can see how that would be a pain.

  5. Julieanna,
    In an earer video on Detox, the Doctor had indicated that brocolli is best but that you have to chew it to get the benefit and that swalloing it does not really help much. My question is what about if you blend broccolli into a smoothie? Would it then give the benefit or not?

      1. Umm… It is a simple question about food preparation. If you feel it is at a greater detail than you care for, you are free to ignore.
        I do not see why you have to be rude and make fun of the question.

    1. It is always necessary to chew plants in order to unlock the nutrients from the cell walls so that our bodies can utilize them. Blending mimics chewing in that it breaks down those cell walls for you. Which video are you referring to so I can see under which context you are referring too…?

  6. Oh well, no problem here, been a broccoli lover since I was a kid. What’s also great is broccoli & cauliflower, some garlic, fresh lemon, and (dare I say it) some EVOO.

  7. Why stop at just broccoli? Why not use a whole food supplement which contains nutrients of 30 fruits, vegetables and berries that’s been around for 23 years and has over 32 clinical studies (most double blind, placebo controlled) conducted at leading universities around the world an published in some of the most prestigious medical journals? Proven to reduce systemic inflammation, aid in healing, reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke and other inflammatory diseases, and other health benefits. Food is good medicine and increasing plant phyto-nutrient intake can really benefit health even when eating a good diet (which so many people don’t.)

  8. I am told by the Joe Cross juice detox coaches that raw cruciferous vegetables are not a good idea for people with low thyroid function. They should be cooked. Can you give me some of the science behind this if there is any? Thanks

    1. You can still consume raw cruciferous vegetables as long as you make sure your iodine and selenium intake is adequate. Both iodine and selenium are essential minerals required by the body for thyroid metabolism, but are a little more challenging to find in our food supply. Try including seaweed for iodine and just one Brazil nut a day gives you a daily dose of selenium (and improve your cholesterol levels). Also, talk to your physician if you have a diagnosed thyroid issue and enjoy raw cruciferous vegetables in smaller doses to avoid overdosing…

  9. I don’t know about the US but in my european country I found it hard to come by broccoli seeds in larger quantities (say a batch that will last for a year of sprouting) at reasonable prices. Does any other reader in the EU have a lead on a webstore that fits the bill and that can ship to any EU country?

    1. I love your question for the US as well. Are we really to buy a small packet of the same seeds we would plant in the garden for indoor sprouting? Surely there must be a more efficient way, and please stop calling me Shirley.

  10. It is important to understand what the word “supplement” really means – because if you have real whole food which is easily accessible, safe and just as good as eating fresh it is not actually a supplement but FOOD – super sprout has the best freeze dried, organic broccoli sprout powder in the world that has been scientifically tested by a state government body in Australia.

  11. Thank you, Dr. Greger. Very much grateful for your review. I’m currently looking for a supplement product, that may have less “ingredients”, maybe one or two, any suggestions? Foe example if you’re traveling? Do you Doctor or maybe your Doctors moderators, what do you use if you can’t in given circumstances/doesn’t have time to prepare? Any alternatives to actually eating a couple of cups of broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage?

    Another question, if someone a weak digestion, eating the actual veggie, like broccoli is hard on digestion. So juicing is the one/only alternative. What’s your opinion? I ate cabbage the other day and experienced burping from cabbage? What would you recommend?
    If given this, that someone has to juice to get benefits, it complicates that you have to take a juicer to where ever you go, that’s crazy? So a backup powdered broccoli, cabbage is a prudent option.

    How many cups of broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage to you Doctors consume?

    I found a couple of sites that sell a powdered version, have you heard of them, used the?
    I’m not autistic, but some people used EnduraCell? Another is from Seagate Products Broccoli sprouts and from Swanson and Eclectic Institute?

    If you could please respond to my inquiry, maybe even Dr. Greger?

    Thank you

    1. Hi there,

      I heard that sprouting creates the ideal breeding ground (moist and warm) for bacteria that might already be in the seeds you buy or introduced by yourself if you aren’t careful.

      How do you address this ? More particularly in terms of getting germ free seeds?

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