When I first heard of broccoli sprouts from Dr. Rhonda Patrick in a Joe Rogan podcast I knew I wanted to try them immediately…! I love making my own things (can you tell?) so it was a no brainer to decide whether I should get my hands on some seeds or just buy a small box of (fairly overpriced) sprouts at the store. It was almost 2 years ago and I’ve been sprouting ever since. It’s easy, fun, healthy and affordable! We’re talking about a really underrated superfood here and I’m so excited to share with you everything I have learnt so far in my journey.
What Exactly Are Broccoli Sprouts And What’s So Great About Them?
We like calling broccoli sprouts “baby broc” because they’re exactly that – they’re tiny broccoli plants that have just sprung from the ground. At about three days old, these plants look more like bean sprouts with their delicate white stems and tiny round leaves. But don’t underestimate this baby. It’s packed with an incredible compound called sulforaphane, which might just be the answer to some of our major health woes.
Sulfora-what? Let’s back up a little bit. Sulforaphane – endearingly abbreviated as SFN – may sound kinda iffy (like cellophane), but it’s actually a naturally-occurring compound that’s been found to have amazing benefits to human health.
How amazing? Well, for starters, there’s plenty of recent scientific evidence showing that SFN fights cancer. In a nutshell, this compound inhibits carcinogenesis in our cells, and also activates a protein mechanism in our DNA called Nrf2, which is a natural antioxidant system.
It’s because of this antioxidant action that SFN is also linked to a host of other health benefits such as decreased risk of chronic diseases, improving respiratory function, protecting the brain, fighting osteoporosis, and minimizes the bacterial infection of H. pylori. Phew – that’s a long list!
The amazing sulforaphane is present in many cruciferous vegetables (of the family Brassicaceae) such as cabbage, cauliflower, kale, bok choy, and brussels sprouts. But guess which veggie has THE most amount of SFN? That’s right – broccoli sprouts. Research in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry even found that broccoli sprouts contain as much as 100 times more SFN-producing compounds than regular broccoli does!
With their cancer-fighting, brain-boosting, disease-crushing abilities, broccoli sprouts are just begging to be added to our diets. But that’s not even all of it. On top of the health benefits of these babies, they’re proving wonderful for skincare, too!
How Broccoli Sprouts Keep Your Skin Glowing
We know now that the sulforaphanes in broccoli sprouts activate the antioxidant response in our body. If you’re wondering whether that’s helpful to our skin health, the answer is a big YES.
Remember the Nrf2 protein activated by SFN? This mechanism has long been regarded for its skin barrier function, detoxification, and anti-inflammatory and DNA repair capacity (yes, there are scientific studies on this, too!). It’s no wonder why Nrf2 is a component of many skincare products in the market today.
On top of that, broccoli sprouts are turning out to be an excellent form of sunscreen! One famous study from the National Academy of Sciences found that the Nrf2 response triggered by broccoli sprouts protects the skin from UV radiation and helps prevent cell damage from sunburn. The researchers further suggested that an ointment or cream made from broccoli sprout SFN could reduce the risk of UV-related skin cancer.
What’s more interesting about this study is that the scientists didn’t make a broccoli sprout smoothie or supplement, like you’d expect with most other superfoods. No, what they did was apply broccoli sprout extract topically on their subjects’ skin. In other words, the human volunteers didn’t have to gulp down anything they didn’t like – they simply rubbed a natural extract on their skin, and it worked wonders to the point where I wonder if I should tweak our face cream recipe and add some baby broc extract?! To be truthful I still prefer Helichrysum as a topical and you can read all about that in my other blog post.
How To Eat, Apply, And Grow Broccoli Sprouts
Obviously, we’re WOWed by the incredible benefits of baby broc, so we went ahead and looked up ways to eat – or apply – this wonder veggie.
Multiple studies recommend that the best way to maximize broccoli sprout nutrients is to chew them raw. Cooking would diminish much of its goodness, including its SFN-producing factor.
How do they taste? They’re more on the bland side, with just a touch of spicy. The texture is a bit stringy, but it’s a perfect crunch for salads, burgers, sandwiches, wraps, and even pasta dishes.
Of course, you can always turn these greens into a yummy smoothie. One Pinterest search will already give you tons of ideas. One we like is this delicious vegan shake that combines broccoli sprouts with other fruits plus cocoa. There’s also this scientifically-formulated home recipe from Dr. Rhonda Patrick, who’s one of the forerunners of broccoli sprout education today.
As for applying broccoli sprout directly on skin, the science on this is fairly new, so tread lightly when trying out skincare products infused with broccoli sprouts. However, doctors are now advising their patients to apply small doses of SFN directly on their skin. It may be worth mentioning this discovery to your dermatologist and see how you can incorporate baby broc into your own regimen.
Finally, we can’t just let this post end without showing you how to grow broccoli sprouts! The great thing about this is that these butt-kicking greenies are so easy to grow at home. You definitely don’t need a green thumb for these.
- Get some seeds. I think you can find them at many places (Canadian Tire, Walmart etc.), but personally I buy them online by the kilos from Mumm’s.
- Prepare a sprouting jar. You can make your own by using a piece of cheese cloth & rubber band on a regular mason jar. I used to do that at the beginning, but then I bought some sprouting lids from Mumm’s. You can find them on Amazon as well (with jar stands) or you can just check your local hardware store.
- Here is the trick! Use 8 tablespoons of broccoli seeds! I know it sounds a lot, especially that most recipes suggest only 2 tbs. When I followed the original instructions at the beginning I was very disappointed by the time it took the seeds to fully sprout and the small yield I got. Then I followed dr. Rhonda Patrick’s suggestion and used 8 tbs seeds (I know I refer to her a lot:) ) and the sprouting was way quicker and I got enough baby broc for days.
- Put the seeds in the jar and soak them in water for a couple hours then drain the water very well. Invert jar and prop at an angle in a bowl.
- In about 3 days your sprouts will be ready to eat! Refrigerate to store, but you can also freeze them and just use them in your smoothies. Sprouts store best when they are fairly dry so do not store immediately after rinsing.
Note, that consistent rinsing is important, because warm, and moist condition that’s ideal for sprout growth could also harbor E. coli and Salmonella. This also means broccoli sprouts are best avoided by pregnant women, small children, and people with immune issues.
Generally though, broc sprouts are just fantastic! We personally find them safe as nourishment – more than safe, they’re super. Of course, you’ll want to ask your doctor or dietitian if you’re unsure about bringing these veggies into your diet, but we ourselves are excited about these fresh new superstars.
What do you think? Have you tried broccoli sprouts? We’d love to hear your stories!