By:Tori Schmitt, MS, RDN, LD
You probably already know that broccoli is a nutritious food – it is! Broccoli is full of fiber, potassium, vitamin C and vitamin K. But if you’re wondering what makes broccoli extra special when it comes to supporting health, it’s this: the important phytonutrient called glucoraphanin.
I know that may sound complex and confusing! But it’s actually pretty simple. What exactly is glucoraphanin? How does glucoraphanin function? Let’s talk about it with a couple of key facts!
Key Fact #1 Glucoraphanin is a phytonutrient
Glucoraphanin is a special “phytonutrient.” The root word “phyto” stems from a Greek word meaning “plant.” So, quite literally, phytonutrients are nutrients that come from plants! You may know that beta-carotene is found in orange vegetables and fruits, that lycopene is found in most naturally red foods, and anthocyanins are found in red and blue fruits, like berries. As it turns out, there are numerous important phytonutrients – one of which is glucoraphanin – and they each play a role in supporting optimal health.
Key Fact #2 Broccoli is a source of glucoraphanin
A variety of Brassica vegetables, including broccoli, kale, cauliflower and cabbage, feature phytonutrients.1 Yet, when it comes to the all of the valuable phytonutrients in broccoli, one stands out above the rest: glucoraphanin! In fact, the predominant phytonutrient in broccoli is glucoraphanin!2 It’s simple – when we eat broccoli, we get glucoraphanin.
Key Fact #3 Glucoraphanin converts to sulforaphane, which provides beneficial contributions to health
When you chop, cut and eat broccoli, a naturally occurring enzyme in broccoli called myrosinase converts glucoraphanin into sulforaphane. In the body, sulforaphane functions as an antioxidant to support the body’s own detoxification system. That’s right, your body has its own detoxification system and the phytonutrients in broccoli (namely, glucoraphanin) help your detoxification system do its job.
Key Fact #4 Getting glucoraphanin is easy!
It’s easy to get glucoraphanin! Because broccoli is a major source of glucoraphanin, simply enjoy broccoli more often to get more glucoraphanin.
Looking for fresh ideas to enjoy broccoli? Here are some nutritious (and totally delicious!) ideas to help you eat more of this healthy green vegetable:
• Serve broccoli on top of a salad with other foods full of phytonutrients, like kale,
strawberries, walnuts, salmon and a lemon-garlic dressing.
• Eat raw broccoli with a delicious dip like hummus or guacamole for a mid-day snack.
• Add frozen broccoli into homemade smoothies – you won’t even be able to taste it!
• Puree broccoli to make a broccoli pesto to spread over a sandwich, dip with vegetables, or
drizzle over whole-wheat noodles, bean pasta or “zoodles” (zucchini noodles).
• Add broccoli florets to your lunchtime wrap.
• Lightly steam broccoli for 3-5 minutes, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, and sprinkle with
hemp hearts or pumpkin seeds for a savory side dish.
With the help of TrueBroc®, you can also enjoy glucoraphanin in additional nutritious ways:
• Pack Brassica Tea with TrueBroc® in your bag, backpack, purse or carry-on for glucoraphanin while you’re on the go.
• Swap out your usual morning cup of coffee for Brassica Coffee with TrueBroc®.
• Discover nutritious recipes using Brassica Tea and Coffee with TrueBroc® here [Link: https://truebroc.com/category/recipes/].
• Consider a dietary supplement containing glucoraphanin. Check with a qualified healthcare practitioner to determine what might be most appropriate for you!
What do you find most interesting about glucoraphanin? What is your favorite way to get this important phytonutrient? Let’s hear your thoughts! Share a message with me on Facebook [Link: www.facebook.com/yesnutritionllc] and tag my friends from TrueBroc® [Link: www.facebook.com/truebroc]! We look forward to hearing from you!
1. Ishida M, Hara M, Fukino N, Kakizaki T, Morimitsu Y. Glucosinolate metabolism, functionality and breeding for the improvement of Brassicaceae vegetables. Breeding Science. 2014;64(1):48-59. doi:10.1270/jsbbs.64.48.
2. Cartea, Maria & Velasco, Pablo. (2007). Glucosinolates in Brassica foods: Bioavailability in food and significance for human health. Phytochemistry Reviews. 7. 213-229. 10.1007/s11101-007-9072-2.