Broccoli Sprouts Reduce Benzene Levels in the Body

An increased level of benzene in the body is associated with a number of diseases. Researchers writing in the journal Cancer Prevention Research describe how a broccoli sprout-derived beverage will lower benzene levels in the body. Two chemicals in broccoli sprouts that are largely responsible for the effect are:

1) Sulforaphane

2) Glucoraphanin

Image Credit: International Specialty Supply


Broccoli sprouts are a convenient and rich source of the glucosinolate, glucoraphanin, which can generate the chemopreventive agent, sulforaphane, an inducer of glutathione S-transferases (GSTs) and other cytoprotective enzymes. A broccoli sprout-derived beverage providing daily doses of 600 μmol glucoraphanin and 40 μmol sulforaphane was evaluated for magnitude and duration of pharmacodynamic action in a 12-week randomized clinical trial. Two hundred and ninety-one study participants were recruited from the rural He-He Township, Qidong, in the Yangtze River delta region of China, an area characterized by exposures to substantial levels of airborne pollutants. Exposure to air pollution has been associated with lung cancer and cardiopulmonary diseases. Urinary excretion of the mercapturic acids of the pollutants, benzene, acrolein, and crotonaldehyde, were measured before and during the intervention using liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry. Rapid and sustained, statistically significant (p ≤ 0.01) increases in the levels of excretion of the glutathione-derived conjugates of benzene (61%), acrolein (23%), but not crotonaldehyde were found in those receiving broccoli sprout beverage compared with placebo. Excretion of the benzene-derived mercapturic acid was higher in participants who were GSTT1-positive compared to the null genotype, irrespective of study arm assignment. Measures of sulforaphane metabolites in urine indicated that bioavailability did not decline over the 12-week daily dosing period. Thus, intervention with broccoli sprouts enhances the detoxication of some airborne pollutants and may provide a frugal means to attenuate their associated long-term health risks. (Link)

Broccoli sprouts are available in many grocery stores’ produce departments or can be easily sprouted at home with a sprouting jar and bag of broccoli sprout seeds. The recipe I use for sprouting is:

1) Soak 1/4 cup of seeds in a sprouting jar for 24 hours.

2) Drain the water. Rinse and drain twice daily.

After 3-5 days, you’ll have a jar’s worth of broccoli sprouts that can be put on salads or blended into juices and smoothies. I like to dry the sprouts on paper towels sitting on clean plates before putting them in the fridge. A portion can be frozen for later use in blended drinks. Some research suggests freezing may actually increase the amount of sulforaphane in the sprouts.

For more information, here is an informative discussion with Rhonda Patrick on sulforaphane: (Link)

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