In Blog, Diet, Exercise, Health, Health Professionals, Lifestyle, multiple sclerosis, Research

The Endless Benefits of Sulfur-Rich Vegetables: Cancer Prevention, Detoxification, Gene Expression and more…

How often are you getting three cups of sulfur-rich vegetables in your diet?

There is ample evidence of the health benefits of eating broccoli and other cabbage family vegetables. These foods contain glucoraphanin, which, in the right circumstances, is metabolized to sulforaphane, which is associated with many health benefits.

To create sulforaphane, broccoli and other cabbage family vegetables must be chewed, which mixes the glucoraphanin with the enzyme myrosinase.1 Again, we can’t get sulforaphane directly from the cabbage family vegetables. We need to have the glucoraphanin acted upon by the myrosinase enzymes, which produce sulforaphane.

Both sulforaphane and glucoraphanin have been associated with many health benefits. Sulforaphane and glucoraphanin favorably modulate inflammation through the NFKappaB, Nrf2, and Keap1 pathways.2-4 They also improve biotransformation and the ability to excrete toxins by favorably modulating phase 1 and phase detoxification pathways that are used by the liver and kidneys process and eliminate toxins from the body.4 This means that glucoraphanin has anti-inflammatory, anti-apoptotic, and antioxidant properties, meaning it may help prevent and treat many types of cancer as well as neurologic and psychiatric disorders.5,6

One study found that glucoraphanin boosted the expression of detoxification-related genes and attenuated acute liver injury in a rat model of liver injury.7; Glucoraphanin stimulates Nrf2-related genes, which improves mitochondrial function and stem cell function in tissue culture and animal studies.8 In studies of Chinese smokers, glucoraphanin improved detoxification and elimination of air pollutants benzene and acreolein, which are found in tobacco smoke.9 Sulforaphane inhibits breast cancer growth in animal models and human tissue cultures of cancer. Other studies have indicated benefit to treat or preventing breast cancer,10 colon cancer,11 prostate cancer,12 oral cancer,13 stomach cancer,14 and lung cancer.14 Thus eating more cabbage family vegetables and increasing glucoraphanin is a useful strategy for cancer prevention and as part of the wellness plan for anyone undergoing cancer treatment.1

The NFKappaB, Nrf2, and Keap1 pathways are also involved in mood disorders and neurologic disorders. Excessive stimulation of NFKappaB will lead to overactivation of the innate immune system and increased autoimmune activity. It will also lead to increased mitochondrial strain and more oxidative stress. The result is more anxiety and lower mood, more autoimmune disease flares, and greater risk for cognitive decline and worsening memory.

That is why glucoraphanin and sulforaphane are being investigated in animal models of psychiatric and neurological diseases. In animal models of depression and memory, the addition of glucoraphanin with myrosinase was associated with better memory and less depression.15,16 In animal models of stress, glucoraphanin was associated with improved stress resilience.17 It also improved memory18 and reduced the onset of psychoses19 in animal models of psychiatric disease. It improved neuronal production of nerve growth factors in mice and genes related to nerve growth factor production.20 Glucoraphanin reduced disability accumulation in an animal model of multiple sclerosis.21 It has reduced leakiness of the blood-brain barrier,22 reduced microglial reactivity,21,23 and improved memory18,23,24 in animal models of neurologic disease. In human trials, glucoraphanin and myrosinase have been helpful in reducing irritability and hyperactivity in children with autism spectrum disorder.25 The two compounds have also been helpful in improving working memory and mood in older adults.26

For all these reasons I encourage everyone to include cabbage family vegetables in their diets.

These foods include compounds associated with favorable changes in the Nrf2, NFKappaB, and Keap1 pathways, leading to reduced inflammation and reduced oxidative stress. These foods are also excellent for reducing the risk of developing cancers and improving the clearance of toxins from the body. Given the large number of chemicals that we all encounter in our daily lives, cabbage family vegetables and glucoraphanin are a helpful part of everyone’s wellness plan.


The Wahls Protocol® Collection carries Brocco Detox

Brocco Detox features broccoli seed extract enhanced with myrosinase, the enzyme that promotes the conversion of naturally occurring glucoraphanin in broccoli to sulforaphane (SFN).

A potent activator of antioxidant activity, healthy cell-life cycles, and the production of detoxification enzymes, SFN is linked to the many health benefits associated with cruciferous vegetables.

Learn more or click here to shop. 



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  12. Livingstone TL, Saha S, Bernuzzi F, et al. Accumulation of Sulforaphane and Alliin in Human Prostate Tissue. Nutrients. 2022;14(16).
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  18. Park HS, Hwang ES, Choi GY, et al. Sulforaphane enhances long-term potentiation and ameliorate scopolamine-induced memory impairment. Physiol Behav. 2021;238:113467.
  19. Shirai Y, Fujita Y, Hashimoto R, et al. Dietary Intake of Sulforaphane-Rich Broccoli Sprout Extracts during Juvenile and Adolescence Can Prevent Phencyclidine-Induced Cognitive Deficits at Adulthood. PLoS One. 2015;10(6):e0127244.
  20. Kim J, Lee S, Choi BR, et al. Sulforaphane epigenetically enhances neuronal BDNF expression and TrkB signaling pathways. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2017;61(2).
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