DNC News

Broccoli Sprout Update:

I've written several times about the health benefits of broccoli sprouts and the various chemical constituents that are valuable in preventing and treating cancer as well as a host of other conditions. I've also written about selenium and it's even greater role in preventing cancer. So it should be no surprise that when researchers combined the two, I took notice.
In last May's Journal of Agricultural Science, Clement Ip and his colleagues reported on their experiments with selenium enriched broccoli sprouts.[1] They grew sprouts adding selenium to the water. These high selenium sprouts were than fed to rats in various trials in which they tried to induce either breast or colon cancer. The selenium enriched sprouts proved to be better at preventing cancer than feeding sprouts alone or even feeding them in combination with sodium selenite. Are these enriched sprouts available commercially yet? Afraid not. But we shouldn't have long to wait.

[1] Finley JW, Ip C, Lisk DJ, Davis CD, Hintze KJ, Whanger PD. Cancer-protective properties of high-selenium broccoli. J Agric Food Chem 2001 May;49(5):2679-83

Good Food in Small Packages

By Jacob Schor


New food products rarely provide much nutritional value. Most new foods are the result of processing or packaging innovations which either increase shelf life, reduce production costs, or increasesconsumer appeal, most often through convenience, or appearance. Improving the nutritional content rarely fits into the agenda. Preventing disease is an unheard of design goal.

Broccoli Sprouts are a clear exception to this trend. They are the end product of a long chain of scientific research with the explicit goal of preventing cancer. They are such a startling new, innovative product, that you should probably buy some next time you shop.

Three-Part Story:

1. Research showed that certain vegetables lower cancer rates

For years we have known that consuming certain foods lowers the risk of getting cancer. Chief among these foods were vegetables that belong to the Brassica Family: cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts. In the last few years it was figured out why. These vegetables all contain chemicals called glucosinolates. When eaten and digested they are transformed into chemicals which change the way the liver works.

2. Scientific research into how and why this happened

There are two major detoxification pathways in the liver, called Phase 1 and Phase 2, which process poisonous chemicals. Imagine two separate assembly lines. Phase 1, processes the chemicals first, then ships them over to phase 2 to finish the job. Unfortunately, when some chemical go through phase 1 they become carcinogenic, that means chemicals that

cause cancer. These pathways are supposed to work in tandem: Phase 2 is supposed to grab and process the carcinogens as fast as Phase 1 makes them and get rid of them before they cause trouble. This isn't always the case. If Phase 2 runs slow and can't keep up with phase 1, a backlog of cancer causing chemicals piles up. This is trouble. Which brings us back to broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, and cabbage. These plants, or at least chemicals in them, change the way the liver works. Phase 1 slows down and phase 2 speeds up. Carcinogens which are activated by Phase 1 are processed faster and excreted sooner. They have less time to hang around in the body and cause trouble. That's why animals and people who eat large amounts of these vegetables get less cancer.

3. Food product design to deliver the cancer protection

A research group at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine discovered the best source for this cancer protecting chemical. They found and patented a specific type of broccoli seed that when sprouted contained approximately 100 times the level of chemical as the mature plant. This specific seed line is now licensed and sold to local sprout growers who grow Broccoli Sprouts with a Seal of Approval. Samples of the sprouts are regularly tested at Johns Hopkins to make sure they have the right stuff inside.

When you see broccoli sprouts in the produce section of our local groceries, stop and take a look. These are something very novel. Name another food that has been driven into the market place through such a smooth progression of scientific research in disease prevention. Name another food that if eaten regularly will reduce your chance of getting cancer. I can't think of a single one.


Jacob Schor, N.D. majored in Food Science and Product Development as an undergraduate at Cornell University, "once upon a time" and received his doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine at National College in Portland, Oregon in 1991. He served as President of the Colorado Association of Naturopathic Physicians from 1992-1999 and maintains a private practice at the Denver Naturopathic Clinic. If you can name a healthier "new" food call him at 303 337-4884 and he'll write about it.

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