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Broccoli

Scientific Name: Brassica oleracea (Botrytis Group)

Broccoli sprouts have just recently become popular after it was discovered that they abound with the amazing cancer-fighting phytochemical, sulforaphane. Research studies have shown that they contain 50 times more sulforpohane than fresh broccoli. What's more, they contain glucosinolates and isothiocyanates, substances that protect cells from becoming malignant, at 10-100 times greater levels than in fresh broccoli. In addition, they are sources of plant estrogens, similar to human estrogen, and so are helpful in cases of PMS, menopause, hot flashes and fibrocystic disease. Nutrient dense, they are rich sources of vitamins A, B, C, E and K, anti-oxidants, the minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. Also carotene, chlorophyll, amino acids, trace elements and antioxidants. Broccoli sprouts contain as much as 35% protein.

In 1998 Johns Hopkins University declared broccoli sprouts and other crucifer sprouts to be particularly high in sulforaphane. Despite the fact that without seed or sprouts there could never be full grown plants, Hopkins was able to convince the patent office that broccoli sprouts had never been grown before and were granted a patent on all such sprouts. (Yea, I know, this is unbelievable - but it's true.)

The patent was struck down by the courts when Hopkins sued ISS and four other commercial sprout growers for growing broccoli sprouts. Hopkins is appealing the case.

All of the crucifers (or brassicas, or cole crops) are high in antioxidant and anticancer compounds. The anti-cancer properties of these vegetables are so well established that the American Cancer Society recommends that Americans increase their intake of cruciferous vegetables. Other research has suggested that the compounds in brassicas can protect the eyes against macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in older people.

Broccoli Sprouts Carry Potent Anti-Cancer Agent
Broccoli and cauliflower sprouts contain 10 to 100 times more of a potent anti-cancer agent than mature plants, say researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore. Both broccoli and cauliflower belong to the Cruciferae family of the genus Brassica and, along with cabbage and kale, contain substantial amounts of isothiocyanates--powerful inducers of an enzyme system that protects against gene mutation and cancer formation.

This mechanism may explain why people who eat lots of cruciferous vegetables have a reduced cancer risk. Mature vegetables, however, also contain indole glucosinolates that can enhance tumor formation. Glucosinolates smell unpleasant when cooked, and to some people, including at least one former U.S. president, they also taste bad.

Lead researcher Jed Fahey and colleagues found that three-day-old broccoli and cauliflower sprouts contained high levels of an isothiocyanate called "glucoraphanin" and negligible amounts of harmful indole glucosinolates. Even better, extracts from broccoli sprouts proved highly effective in reducing mammary tumor development in rats treated with the carcinogen dimethylbenz(a)anthracene.

Although broccoli sprouts will likely take their place next to alfalfa sprouts in the produce section, mature cruciferous plants still contain abundant vitamins, minerals and fiber not found in sprouts.