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What is Sulforaphane and Why it's Important?

Andre Fasciola | August 19, 2018 | All

‘Sulforaphane, what does chewing have to do with it?’

A Quick background and how it slows aging, fights cancer and more. 

Sulforaphane. It may be a difficult chemical name to read or pronounce correctly, but here we will demystify sulforaphane and make it palatable. You’ve almost certainly consumed it before, but did you know about it? Keep reading to learn where to get it and more importantly why it’s essential to both a healthy diet and disease-free body.

Everyone has heard that we should eat our veggies, but believe it or not, research is still uncovering most of the details of why they are good for us. Science can boost our motivation to eat them. A case in point: Recently, researchers have discovered the exact biomechanics of how sulforaphane protects our health, and this important, bio-active compound occurs in some of the most common veggies. The days of “I heard they are good for you” are over, the ruling is in: Greens are essential!

Where it comes from?

Sulforaphane is a naturally occurring phytochemical, meaning it is produced by plants. It is found in highest concentrations in cruciferous vegetables which are members of the cabbage family. These include kale, arugula, broccoli, cabbage, collard greens and Brussels sprouts.

Fun fact: Sulforaphane is produced by a chemical reaction between an enzyme (myrosinase) found in these plants and a chemical also found in them called glucoraphanin. This reaction occurs as you chew them. To get the most of it, do not overcook these veggies, e.g. steam broccoli for 1-3 minutes, and be sure to chew them thoroughly.

Sulforaphane and its role in the body.

Many people are aware of the importance antioxidants hold in our diet, but unfortunately, the term is used a little too loosely. Sure, certain plants might offer antioxidants, but the health-impact they provide depends heavily on the variety and source of the plant, as well as the concentration and bioavailability of the phytochemicals inside them. That’s a huge range! Sulforaphane is special because it's classified as an ‘indirect antioxidant,’ and a potent one at that. This means that it functions differently from most other antioxidants — Instead of providing, it helps to produce. It works by stimulating the body’s natural ability to make its own antioxidants, and that is a serious health benefit.

Sulforaphane increases our natural ability to fight disease and detoxify. Its impact on cancer cells is particularly well studied. Since it provides immune support from the inside out, it not only dramatically decreases cancer’s ability to proliferate but also fights the disease by triggering antioxidant-dependent defenses.

Bottom line: Sulforaphane does a lot to protect our health.

Matcha + Sulforaphane: Support from all angles

Aside from the obvious health spectrum, you might be wondering what sulforaphane has in common with matcha and why they are a good mix:

  • Each has beneficial properties which are diminished in excessive heat.
  • They both have demonstrated anti-carcinogenic qualities
  • Consuming both imbues a uniquely potent blend of antioxidant support

So next time you're having a salad, try having some matcha with it.

Team Matcha Kari

References:
Grabacka, Maja, et al. "Phytochemical Modulators of Mitochondria: The Search for Chemopreventive Agents and Supportive Therapeutics." Pharmaceuticals (Basel) 7.9 (2014): 913-942.

Ho, Emily, et al. "Dietary Sulforaphane, a Histone Deacetylase Inhibitor for Cancer Prevention." Journal of Nutrition 139.12 (2009)

Tiwari, Ashok Kumar. "Sulforaphane Salads." Pharmacognosy Magazine 14.53 (2018): 3