NEW YORK, Apr 28, 2004 -- Glucoraphanin, also known as sulforaphane glucosinolate (SGS(TM)), a naturally-occurring compound found in broccoli sprouts and broccoli, may reduce risk of high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and stroke, according to new research published in the May 4 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA. The study, titled, "Dietary Approach to Attenuate Oxidative Stress, Hypertension and Inflammation in the Cardiovascular System" was conducted by a team lead by Bernhard H.J. Juurlink, Ph.D. at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada. The researchers looked at the association between a diet containing broccoli sprouts, selected for their highly concentrated levels of SGS, and reduced oxidative stress in a well-recognized animal model for hypertension in humans. Oxidative stress occurs when an unstable molecule of a normal cell, also known as a free radical, reacts with oxygen compounds in the body, causing inflammation and damaging cells and tissues that may contribute to cancer and heart disease.
"Increasing evidence suggests that antioxidant defense mechanisms may be boosted by specific chemicals known as Phase 2 protein inducers, some of which can be found in certain foods," says Dr. Juurlink. "Nearly all the studies to date on sulforaphane, glucoraphanin and broccoli sprouts have focused on the protective effects of these substances against cancer. This study is the first to show that broccoli sprouts rich in these compounds -- through raising the antioxidant and thereby the anti-inflammatory capacities of cells -- profoundly affect the cardiovascular system and can correct major dysfunctions such as hypertension and stroke."
To determine whether an SGS-rich diet would decrease oxidative stress and associated problems, Dr. Juurlink and his colleagues fed broccoli sprouts to rats that were prone to high blood pressure and stroke. For 14 weeks, the rats consumed broccoli sprouts that were either rich in glucoraphanin or depleted of glucoraphanin. Rats fed a glucoraphanin-rich diet exhibited increased tissue antioxidant defense mechanisms, lowered inflammatory response and improved cardiovascular health as demonstrated by decreased blood pressure and decreased inflammation in the heart, arteries and kidneys.
According to Dr. Juurlink, when one considers that the American Heart Association estimated the direct and indirect costs of hypertension to the U.S. health care system in 2003 at $50 billion, our research findings have added importance in that the results show that even a modest change in diet has the potential to have a major impact on health and reduce health care costs significantly. "This study opens up a whole new area of research that may lead to a simple, preventive measure that may help millions of Americans reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease," says Dr. Juurlink. "Although more research needs to be done to fully establish the link between SGS and improved heart health, the findings are encouraging."
Phase 2 Enzymes - Long Lasting Antioxidants
Glucoraphanin or SGS plays a role in boosting the body's natural Phase 2 enzyme antioxidant defense systems and functions as a powerful indirect antioxidant detoxifying carcinogens before they can damage cells. Typical direct antioxidant molecules, such as Vitamins C and E, scavenge one free radical or other oxidant molecule at a time. Once a direct antioxidant molecule binds to a free radical molecule, rendering it harmless, the antioxidant is consumed and is no longer active.
The indirect antioxidant SGS works as a catalyst. It does not neutralize free radicals directly, but rather boosts the body's own antioxidant systems (including Phase 2 detoxification enzymes) that exert ongoing and prolonged antioxidant activity. This is a broad spectrum of activity, cycling over and over, removing many free radicals. It is like an army of antioxidants, ready to neutralize free radicals over a period of time, and continues to be effective in the body for at least a day, even after SGS is gone.
More than 125 Studies Attest to Protective Benefits of Sulforaphane and Broccoli Sprouts
More than 125 scientific papers have been published on sulforaphane, SGS and broccoli sprouts, including 10 already in 2004. Several studies were unveiled at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in March. Two of these studies showed that sulforaphane / broccoli sprouts inhibited the growth of human prostate cancer cells, and another showed it stopped the growth of colon cancer cells. Several recent studies also showed that sulforaphane kills Helicobacter pylori, the bacteria that cause stomach ulcers and can lead to stomach cancer.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, who first isolated sulforaphane from broccoli in 1992, found that young broccoli sprouts, in particular, contained concentrations of SGS that were 20 to 50 times greater than those found in adult cooked broccoli. These broccoli sprouts are now available to consumers as BroccoSprouts(R). One ounce of BroccoSprouts has the same amount of SGS as 11/4 pounds (20 ounces) of mature, cooked broccoli. Of the more than 50 different varieties of broccoli seeds tested, Johns Hopkins researchers found that only a few varieties produced sprouts that contained consistently high concentrations of SGS. BroccoSprouts are grown only from these specially identified and selected seeds and tested for SGS content.
In addition, natural extracts from these broccoli sprouts containing certified high levels of SGS are also found in Brassica(R) Teas. These teas are licensed by Johns Hopkins University and are available in black and green tea varieties and in regular and decaffeinated.
BroccoSprouts are marketed by Brassica Protection Products LLC (BPP), located in Baltimore. A portion of the proceeds from BroccoSprouts sales are contributed to The Brassica Foundation for Chemoprotection Research to support further research into the link between nutrition and cancer. For more information, visit www.broccosprouts.com or www.brassica.com.