Sulforaphane -- found in cruciferous vegetables -- is one of a well-studied group of anti-cancer chemicals called isothiocyanates. Cruciferous vegetables are all members of the Cruciferae, or cabbage, family. Several studies link a diet high in sulforaphane-containing vegetables with a decreased risk for several types of cancers, including cancers of the breast, prostate, lung, colon and rectum, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research. Eating five or more servings of cruciferous vegetables per week is linked with a considerable reduction in the risk of cancer.
Broccoli Sprouts and Broccoli
Broccoli sprouts are the richest source of glucoraphanin, the precursor of cancer-fighting sulforaphane. At three days old, broccoli sprouts contain 10 to 100 times more of this potent phytochemical than mature broccoli, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. However, broccoli is also an excellent source of glucoraphanin and sulforaphane. When cooking broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables, don't boil them or microwave them at high power -- these methods reduce the amount of sulforaphane and other phytochemicals that are beneficial to your health. Lightly steam or microwave them on low power instead. Researchers discovered the best way to cook broccoli to protect sulforaphane is to steam it lightly for only three to four minutes, until it is tender but yet still somewhat tough.
Brussels sprouts are another excellent source of sulforaphane and other anti-cancer compounds. In fact, all cruciferous vegetables -- including broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, mustard greens, kohlrabi, radish, watercress and bok choi -- are not only good sources of anti-cancer compounds, but are also low in calories and filled with fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. It is important to eat a variety of cruciferous vegetables because they contain different disease-fighting compounds and nutrients that work both separately and together to prevent cancer, AICR explains.
Cabbage, especially red cabbage and savoy cabbage, is another rich source of sulforaphane. Although standardized supplements containing a guaranteed minimum amount of sulforaphane from extracts of cruciferous vegetables are available, it is not yet known if they are effective. Instead, eat a diet high in cruciferous vegetables, which shows potential as an effective and safe way to prevent cancer, according to a review article appearing in the October 8, 2008 issue of "Cancer Letters."
- Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.