Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, and kale contain a powerful and biologically active antioxidant – glucoraphanin1. Through a process called hydrolysis, sulfur-containing glucoraphanin is metabolized into the biologically active isothiocynate sulforaphane, which is associated with a variety of positive effects stemming from its antioxidant activity2,3.
For example, sulforaphane2,3:
- Releases hydrogen sulfide when cooked, producing a cardioprotective effect similar to that of garlic
- Induces phase II enzymes, an important part of the body’s detoxification pathways
- Increases expression of antioxidant enzymes
- Exerts other protective antioxidant effects
Glucoraphanin is a type of glucosinolate, a sulfur-containing compound associated with a pungent aroma and spicy taste. Glucobrassicin and gluconastutin are two other types of glucosinolates – differentiated by their amino acid composition – produced by cruciferous vegetables like broccoli. When these glucosinolates go through hydrolysis, they enter their biologically active form, then called isothiocynates1.
A novel antioxidant is a broccoli seed extract standardized to yield 13 percent glucoraphanin, which metabolizes to sulforaphane and activates Nrf-2 pathways to produce4:
- Antioxidants for reducing oxidative stress
- Phase 2 enzymes, detoxifiers vital for the body’s natural detoxification process
Oxidative stress is a process caused by free radicals – unstable molecules formed during both natural body processes and from exposure to toxins5. Activation of Nrf-2 pathways help target harmful inflammation, thus limiting the extent and magnitude to which inflammation occurs6.
Oxidative stress and unhealthy inflammation is often a primary cause for systemic imbalances in the human body. These imbalances are connected to conditions like cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes7.