Sulforaphanes (SFN) are isothiocyanates, a phytochemical found in cruciferous
foods such as broccoli sprouts (one of the most potent sources), kale, cauliflower, brussels sprouts and cabbage. Research has demonstrated their potential to decrease the risk for several types of cancer, including colon cancer. Studies have shown that these phytochemicals increase antioxidant enzymes in the colon and induce apoptosis (cell death) of cancer cells. Of particular interest, is the research looking at the effects of SFN’s on our gut microbiome, which is not only important for general digestive health, but also plays a role in the prevention of colon cancer.
As is the case with many vegetables, how they are prepared, has a surprisingly significant impact on their nutrient status when you eat them. Many people tend to overcook their vegetables by steaming them for too long or microwaving them for more than two minutes, which can damage the enzymes important for the formation of sulforaphanes. For example, broccoli contains an enzyme called myrosinase, which is important in the formation of sulforaphanes. However, to maintain the integrity of the SFN’s it’s recommended to steam your broccoli for three to four minutes to increase sulforaphane formation without preventing it’s production altogether, which often occurs due to overcooking.
While there are many variables when it comes to a patient’s individual cancer risk, adding sulforaphanes to an already healthy diet and lifestyle may be beneficial!
The information in this article is intended for your educational use only. Always seek the advice of your naturopathic physician or other qualified health practitioners with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.
Hao Q, Wang M, Sun NX, et al. Sulforaphane suppresses carcinogenesis of colorectal cancer through the ERK/Nrf2-UDPglucuronosyltransferase 1A metabolic axis activation. Oncol Rep. 2020;43(4):1067-1080. doi:10.3892/or.2020.7495
Clarke JD, Dashwood RH, Ho E. Multi-targeted prevention of cancer by sulforaphane.Cancer Lett. 2008;269(2):291-304.doi:10.1016/j.canlet.2008.04.018