Protection as Prevention: Can Nutrition Boost Immunity?

And if so, what role do the superfood(s) broccoli, broccoli sprouts, and broccoli seeds play?

Wellness experts and healthcare providers know: the foods we eat and the nutritional supplements we take can boost immunity against a host of aggressors, including pollutants, viruses, and microbes.

Does nutrition support immunity?

Yes! Scientists have proven that the design of our immune system is complex and influenced positively by an ideal balance of many factors, including a diet consisting of a range of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, combined with lifestyle factors like adequate sleep and exercise, and stress management. Attention to all these inputs most effectively primes the body to fight infection and diseases.1

Many factors influence our innate immunity (composed of our skin, mucus, stomach acid, enzymes and immune system cells) as well as our adaptive immunity, as controlled by our cells and organs, including the spleen, thymus, bone marrow, and lymph nodes.

The presence of antigens and specific inflammatory responses can aid in building immunity, while autoimmune or immunodeficiency disorders can undermine or even disable immunity. And, of course, a host of conditions can depress our immunity, including older age, environmental toxins, excess weight, chronic diseases, stress, lack of sleep, and poor diet.

So, to what degree can a healthy diet and optimal nutritional supplementation boost our immune health? On the whole, scientists have noted that diets limited in variety and lower in nutrients, e.g.: ultra-processed foods, can negatively influence immunity by disturbing the healthy intestinal microorganisms (the microbiome), potentially resulting in chronic inflammation. Concurrently, diets that are primarily plant based, rich in fiber, filled with vitamins, antioxidants, flavonoids, and metabolites provide the basis for a healthy microbiome, the breeding ground for robust health.2

What role do broccoli, broccoli sprouts, and broccoli seeds play in the quest for immunity?

Broccoli possesses compounds that offer protection from a variety of aggressors and is a primary contributing factor to plant based “chemoprotection,” a field of study pioneered by renowned pharmacologist Dr. Paul Talalay, “the father of chemoprotection” —who conducted extensive research on the cancer prevention properties of broccoli sprouts.3

Talalay’s research has been lauded as “one of the top 100 scientific discoveries of the 20th century,”4 as it investigated and demonstrated the importance of the isothiocyanate sulforaphane, and its natural precursor, the glucosinolate glucoraphanin. Although many cruciferous vegetables are rich in glucosinolates, Talalay discovered that broccoli is the richest source of glucoraphanin, the precursor to the most potent of phase 2 detoxification enzymes, isothiocyanate sulforaphane. Since its identification in broccoli, the benefits of sulforaphane have since been validated and expanded upon in multiple global studies. Sulforaphane has been shown to confer remarkable health benefits, specifically to support the body’s propensity to protect cells.

Further research from a UCLA study in 2008 demonstrated the importance of the glucoraphanin in broccoli as a precursor to sulforaphane in maintaining protective cellular immunity.5 UCLA’s researchers describe the antioxidant power of broccoli like this: “A chemical in broccoli switches on a set of antioxidant genes and enzymes in specific immune cells, which then combat the injurious effects of molecules known as free radicals that can damage cells and lead to disease. Free radicals are byproducts of normal body processes, such as the metabolic conversion of food into energy, and can also enter the body through small particles present in polluted air.”6

Most of us are familiar with the important antioxidants in our diets, including vitamins E and C, but many do not realize that our bodies’ have the ability to produce our own antioxidants, too. We typically refer to these as intrinsic antioxidants, one of the best examples being glutathione, commonly referred to as GSH. One of the most exciting developments in the study of antioxidants’ ability to help defend the body is the elucidation of the Nrf2 pathway (Nuclear Factor Erythroid 2-Related Factor). Nrf2 behaves like a thermostat to protect our bodies from oxidative stress and the damage it causes by up-regulating, or increasing, the production of our intrinsic antioxidants like GSH.7

Nrf2 binds with our body’s DNA to spur the synthesis or production of specific molecules (antioxidants and antioxidant enzymes) that work in a synergistic manner to deactivate excessive free radicals before they cause harmful oxidative damage, and thereby minimize their detrimental effects.

Nrf2 can be activated by a variety of factors including cellular stress, exercise, oxidative stress, and notably, phytochemicals in the foods we eat. One of the key discoveries by Dr. Talalay and colleagues at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, is that the sulforaphane from broccoli, broccoli seeds and sprouts, is one of the most potent natural inducers of Nrf2. Of the three, broccoli seeds contain the highest concentration of the sulforaphane precursor, glucoraphanin.8 To date, nearly a thousand scientific papers have been published on sulforaphane and Nrf2.

How can we maximize broccoli’s nutritional powers?

Scientists, Physicians, Nutritionists, and Health Experts concur: Broccoli is supreme. Dr. Michael Greger, physician and NY Times bestselling author, notes that while broccoli may protect our brains and eyesight, boost our detoxification enzymes, and even aid in the prevention and treatment of chronic disease, the antioxidant benefit is highest when we eat our broccoli raw, as this allows the optimal conversion from glucoraphanin to sulforaphane to occur.

Yet it is extremely difficult for most of us to eat high amounts of fresh raw broccoli on a regular basis. Unfortunately, when we cook broccoli, according to Dr. Greger and others, the myrosinase enzyme that converts the glucoraphanin in broccoli to sulforaphane — is quickly destroyed.9 Short of nutritional hacks, like cooking broccoli and then adding prepared mustard or powdered mustard seeds before eating10, the antioxidant benefits of glucoraphanin and sulforaphane are diminished.

One of the most exciting answers to this problem is the availability of high-quality glucoraphanin in supplement and ingredient form. Thankfully, this alternative for obtaining glucoraphanin doesn’t require us to eat a pound of broccoli or find fresh sprouts every week (although every form of cruciferous vegetable, cooked or raw, provides valuable fiber as well). One of the easiest and most effective ways to obtain the antioxidant benefits of glucoraphanin is TrueBroc®, which is extracted in a natural, hot water process from broccoli seeds.

By understanding the far-reaching benefits of glucoraphanin, we can make better decisions about the foods and supplements we recommend and consume. And whether you love broccoli or you love to hate it, TrueBroc® makes it easier to consume these important antioxidants on a daily basis.


1The Nutrition Source: Nutrition and Immunity,” Harvard School of Public Health
2 “Towards a Food Pharmacy: Immunologic Modulation through Diet,”Molendijk I, van der Marel S, Maljaars PW. Nutrients. 2019 Jun;11(6):1239.
3Father of Chemoprotection,” Neil A. Grauer, Hopkins Medicine Class Notes, Fall, 2019.
4Father of Chemoprotection,” Neil A. Grauer, Hopkins Medicine Class Notes, Fall, 2019.
5Broccoli May Help Boost Aging Immune System,” University of California – Los Angeles, Science Daily, March, 2008.
6Broccoli May Help Boost Aging Immune System,” University of California – Los Angeles, Science Daily, March, 2008.
7Nrf2: The Master Regulator of Anti-Oxidative Responses” published Dec. 20, 2017 by the NCBI
8Father of Chemoprotection,” Neil A. Grauer, Hopkins Medicine Class Notes, Fall, 2019.
9How to Cook Broccoli,” Michael Greger, M.D. FACLM,, Feb. 9, 2016.
10The potential to intensify sulforaphane formation in cooked broccoli,” Sameer Khalil Ghawi, Lisa Methven, Keshavan Niranjan, NCBI, Nov. 2012.

Raise a Glass to Detoxification this Holiday Season

It’s only fitting to celebrate Brassica’s 20th anniversary with a toast from the company that devotes its time to sharing broccoli’s superpower with the world. Raise a glass with us…

Wishing you more detoxification
than all my words can tell,
not just for the holidays,
but for all the year as well

We are honored that RM Seafood’s Chef Rick Moonen (@rmseafood) and his mixologists created a cocktail and mocktail that feature Brassica® Tea. You can detox this holiday season whether you enjoy your detox on the rocks or as a total tea-totaler!

Need to refill your Brassica® Tea and Coffee before your family and friends arrive? Enjoy free shipping on all orders over $15. Enter coupon code 20Years at checkout and shipping is on us.



Detoxification (Detox) on the Rocks

Detox on the Rocks Drink for Detoxification Photo

1.0 oz Brassica® Black Tea/Pear Syrup
1.5 oz Bulleit™ Pine-infused
0.5 oz Tuaca™
0.5 oz Orange Liqueur
0.75 oz Lemon Juice
0.5 oz Orange Juice
Shake and strain
Top with Brassica® Green Tea
Serve on the rocks

The Better Tea-TotalerThe Better Tea-Totaler Drink for Detoxification

Brassica® Green Tea
1.0 oz Lemon/Green Syrup
0.25 oz Lemon Juice
Shake and serve
Add blueberries and mint as a garnish (optional)

Recipe – Grilled Broccoli Salad with Radish

It’s Labor Day! As you prepare to spend time with family and friends, fire up the grill and put refreshing drinks on ice, don’t be afraid to prepare delicious and healthy food that will wow your guests and deliver a kick of detox to your body.

The broccoli and radishes in our new Grilled Broccoli Salad recipe (thank you Amy Fischer, RD – @thegreenfisch) work as a team to help prepare the body for true detoxification. Broccoli florets feature the powerful phytonutrient glucoraphanin and the enzyme myrosinase, which work together to convert glucoraphanin to the potent antioxidant sulforaphane. Radishes are also rich in myrosinse.

Glucoraphanin is converted into sulforaphane via the enzyme myrosinase. This happens when we chew broccoli and break down the cells. Caution – myrosinase will be denatured when cooking. If this occurs, the conversion will take place via the body’s gut microflora, which is the same process if you are consuming glucoraphanin through a fortified food, beverage or supplement.

Try our latest broccoli recipe…on the grill this Labor Day!

Grilled Broccoli Salad with Radish Grilled Broccoli Salad Recipe Ingredients

1 head of broccoli
1 large red onion
2 ears corn
4 small radishes
1 tbsp. olive oil
Balsamic vinegar

On a clean grill, coat grill rack with olive oil. Slice broccoli horizontally into medium thick slices. Cut red onion into thick slices. Grill corn in or out of the husk directly on grill or wrap it in aluminum foil and place on edge of grill.Grilled broccoli salad recipe ingredients on the grill

Brush vegetables lightly with olive oil on both sides to coat and season with salt and pepper. Place broccoli, onion and corn on heated grill and cook at medium to low temperature turning frequently to avoid burning. Cook for approximately 5-10 minutes and remove from heat. Mix vegetables together and drizzle lightly with balsamic.

Using a mandolin slice the radish over the salad and serve warm or chilled. Serves 4.


Recipe: Crustless Broccoli Quiche

Do you need breakfast inspiration? Or, maybe you’re preparing for vacation and you want an easy “make ahead” breakfast option that can be reheated quickly, tastes great and packs a punch of nutrition? Try this mini crustless broccoli quiche recipe created by registered dietitian Amy Fischer (@thegreenfisch). Pair the quiche with a cup of Brassica Tea with 15 milligrams of glucoraphanin from broccoli.

Glucoraphanin 101
Glucoraphanin – while a tongue twister – is a mighty antioxidant found at the highest levels in broccoli. It optimizes the body’s detoxification systems, helping to eliminate toxins and environmental pollutants from the body.

Glucoraphanin is converted into the phytonutrient sulforaphane via the enzyme myrosinase (also found in broccoli). This happens by chewing and breaking down the cells, resulting in the distinct taste (sulfur-like) of broccoli. Or, the conversion will happen in the body’s gut microflora, which is the same process used if you’re consuming glucoraphanin via a fortified food, beverage or supplement.

Recipe: Mini Crustless Broccoli Quiches

Servings: 12 individual quiches

Photo of crustless broccoli quiche ingredientsIngredients
4 cups broccoli florets
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion chopped
2 cloves garlic minced
¼ cup sharp cheddar cheese shredded
¼ cup pecorino romano cheese grated
½ cup whole milk
4 eggs
4 egg whites
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; sauté for approximately 1-2 minutes. Add broccoli florets and sauté for approximately 2 minutes; add a pinch of salt and pepper. Remove from heat.

Photo of mini crustless broccoli quiche in muffin panCoat muffin tin lightly with olive oil or use a silicon muffin pan and spoon broccoli mixture evenly into muffin tin.

In a medium bowl combine and beat eggs, egg whites, cheddar, milk, nutmeg, ½ tsp. salt and pepper. Pour mixture evenly over broccoli mixture and then top with grated pecorino romano. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 30 minutes or until a knife is inserted and comes out clean. Enjoy!

A “Radbroc” Smoothie Recipe

Broccoli and RadishesWhat do you get when you combine broccoli florets with radishes? A detoxification power couple.

Broccoli contains the phytonutrient glucoraphanin and the enzyme myrosinase. When we chew raw broccoli, the myrosinase and glucoraphanin interact to create sulforaphane, which is a potent antioxidant and detoxifier.

In addition to being another rich source of myrosinase, radishes are mostly composed of water. Water helps to keep the body hydrated and helps to support the efficiency of digestion, ensuring proper uptake of nutrients from the food we eat – like broccoli.

Our nutrition consultant, Ashley Koff, RD, developed the following smoothie recipe, featuring the power couple “Radbroc.” Enjoy!

Radbroc Smoothie Recipe

3 radishes, washed*
3 broccoli leaves*
1 cup broccoli florets*
1 serving plant protein powder*
1 cup unsweetened hemp milk
1 cup frozen mango
2 tsp coconut oil
Optional: 1/2 ripe banana

Place all items in a blender and purée.

Makes 1 large (meal replacement) serving or 2 side servings.
*denotes organic

Survey Shows Americans Are Cooking the Health Out of Broccoli

The National Brassica Survey Reveals Nearly 2 in 5 Americans are Cooking Broccoli 10 Minutes or Longer, Significantly Reducing the Detoxification Benefits of the Phytonutrient Glucoraphanin

Brassica logo

Approximately 75 million Americans live in areas with unhealthy air, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). On top of this, consuming alcohol and exposure to UV rays and cigarette smoke increase the level of toxins found in the body. A natural way to help the body eliminate these harmful toxins is to increase consumption of broccoli. Considered by many as a superfood, broccoli boasts the highest level of glucoraphanin – a long-lasting antioxidant – of all cruciferous vegetables. Glucoraphanin supports the body’s own natural detoxification system.

With National Air Quality Awareness Week April 27 – May 1, now is the time to identify ways to help rid the body of harmful environmental toxins. Broccoli, if prepared properly, is a natural way to help boost the body’s own natural detoxification system.

Findings from the recent Brassica survey, which polled 1,012 nationally representative U.S. adults ages 18 and older, revealed that Americans are cooking the health out of their broccoli, not realizing that cooking broccoli at high temperatures and for long periods of time decrease the effectiveness of many nutrients.

Findings at a Glance

Health Benefits of Broccoli

  • Americans know broccoli is healthy, that’s why nearly 2 in 5 wish they could get the nutritional benefits from broccoli without actually having to eat it. And more than half – 56 percent – of those under the age of 35 wish this.
  • Many are confused about the health benefits of broccoli. In fact, 51 percent do not realize broccoli is a natural detoxifier.
  • Nearly 20 percent of Americans believe kale contains more antioxidant phytonutrients than broccoli. In reality, broccoli contains the highest level of glucoraphanin of any cruciferous vegetable.

Preparing Broccoli

  • For 76 percent of Americans, cooking broccoli is their favorite way to prepare it. This includes tried-and-true cooking methods like steaming it on the stovetop (31 percent), steaming it in the microwave (18 percent) and sautéing it in a pan (11 percent).
  • While Americans are eating broccoli, they’re cooking it at high temperatures for up to 15 minutes, which destroys nutrients in the process.
  • The longer broccoli is cooked at high temperatures the more nutrients are deactivated, even though 13 percent of respondents believe cooking broccoli at high temperatures helps to activate its healthy enzymes.

“One of the most significant benefits of eating broccoli is its glucoraphanin that helps to support your body’s own natural detoxification system to function optimally,” said Ashley Koff, registered dietitian. “I’m excited to hear Americans are eating broccoli because it is such a powerhouse vegetable. While I suggest people aim to eat a serving of broccoli daily, I know that’s not realistic. For those non-broccoli days I recommend a quality glucoraphanin supplement especially for those needing extra detoxification support based on environmental pollutants or other health concerns.”

Survey Methodology

Wakefield Research conducted the Brassica survey for Brassica Protection Products, an innovator of nutritional ingredients from broccoli, in March 2015. The survey sample included 1,012 nationally representative U.S. adults ages 18 and older.

Give Her a Box of…Broccoli…and Flowers

It’s February and you know what that means.  Women are wearing red in support of the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women campaign – even Dr. Oz is supporting the cause in his red scrubs.

You’ll read stories about the benefits of quitting smoking, exercising more and eating fruits and vegetables all in a concerted effort to support the health of your heart. Coinciding with these heart health messages are advertisements for chocolate candy. Sales of candy soar in February as men and women buy it as a gift to express their love and gratitude to their partner.

Wouldn’t it be better to couple the bouquet of flowers with a homemade dinner overflowing with a true treat that will flood the heart with love?

Broccoli is packed with key nutrients, including:

  • Vitamins A and C
  • Fiber
  • Glucoraphanin, a super antioxidant

Broccoli helps to boost your body’s natural detoxification system, which supports overall health including cardiovascular health. So, we challenge you this Valentine’s Day – toss the chocolate and opt for a gift of broccoli to show someone you truly care. Ok, ok…if you can’t ditch the chocolate altogether, what about combining the two?ChocoFloret

Our friends at created a chocolate-covered broccoli recipe that includes broccoli, semisweet chocolate chips, peanut butter and sea salt. All you need is 20 minutes of prep.


  • 1 large head of broccoli, raw or lightly steamed
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter or almond butter
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt, such as Maldon sea salt (optional)


1. Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper

2. Wash and dry broccoli. Trim spears to a length of about 2 inches. Set aside.  Also, if desired, broccoli can be steamed to desired tenderness.  However, be aware that over-steaming broccoli will breakdown the enzyme myrosinase, which helps to convert glucoraphanin to sulforaphane.  Don’t worry though, your gut mircoflora will also take care of the conversion.

3. Place chocolate chips and peanut butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat 1 minute on 50% power. Stir and continue heating in 30-second increments at 50% power, until chips are completely melted.

4. Working quickly, dip each broccoli spear into chocolate mixture, allowing excess to drip off. Place on prepared cookie sheet.

5. Sprinkle with sea salt. Let cool 20 to 30 minutes. Refrigerate if desired.

We’d love to hear from you.  Share your favorite broccoli recipes with us!