Frequently asked questions
Can you recommend a good source for purchasing high-quality broccoli seeds for sprouting?
I do not suggest, endorse, or support any particular vendor of broccoli seeds for sprouting. That’s because without buying and testing each lot of seeds in my laboratory to determine species, viability, pesticide content, and glucoraphanin potency, I would not be certain that they are of sufficient quality. The glucoraphanin potency, in particular, is difficult to gauge because it varies year-to-year, harvest-to-harvest, even in seeds from reputable sources.
Should I consume moringa powder or broccoli sprouts/seeds with a meal or on an empty stomach with a glass of water?
In clinical studies, where we want to have precisely the same conditions in every way possible for each person, we typically have our study participants take their doses early in the day, before eating, with a glass of water. However, moringa powder and broccoli sprouts/seeds can cause some mild digestive discomfort (such as belching) when consumed on an empty stomach, so we typically recommend that folks at home consume them with other foods.
The good news is that our work suggests that the range of bioavailability of the active ingredients (the glucosinolates and the isothiocyanates produced from them) in moringa and broccoli sprouts/seeds is pretty comparable whether you consume them with food or on an empty stomach. Hints from comparing different studies suggest that an empty stomach might actually make the compounds a little more bioavailable, but this is not proven, and the difference would not be important to you as a regular consumer.
I keep hearing about foods that fight autism, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, cancer, etc. Broccoli sprouts and moringa are frequently mentioned in these reports. Is there any truth to any of this?
Broccoli sprouts and moringa and the phytochemicals that they contain (e.g., sulforaphane and moringin) are being actively and aggressively investigated by scientists around the world for their potential role in reducing the effects of all of those conditions and many more. Because these compounds have been shown to reduce inflammation, boost the activity of antioxidant and cytoprotection enzyme systems, and interact with a long list of cellular processes related to all of these diseases and more, the conditions mentioned in your question are all reasonable research targets. As the biology becomes more and more compelling (e.g., test tube, cell culture, and/or animal studies) you will likely start to hear of more clinical work (e.g., human trials) being done, published, and in some cases reported by the popular press. It would be premature to claim victory on any of these battlefields yet, though!
I am interested in trying to help out with the work that is being done on sulforaphane and broccoli sprouts. Are there any ongoing clinical trials that I might investigate?
This is a great question. As of mid-August 2021, the national clinical trial database (clinicaltrials.gov) listed 177 such studies, with about 1/4 of them either “currently” or “not yet” recruiting. You can find them yourself, and further investigate whether any are suitable for you, by going to the website.
Can you recommend any particular brand of broccoli sprouts?
We try to avoid such endorsements. As you may know, in the late 1990s Drs. Paul Talalay and I co-founded a company to promote broccoli sprouts and other chemoprotective foods. This company, Brassica Protection Products, no longer is involved with broccoli sprouts in the USA, but they do sell broccoli seed extracts to the supplement industry, and they are run by our co-founder, Paul's son Tony Talalay. Paul and I removed ourselves from any and all management, advisory, or financial relationships with that company many years ago because it created a conflict of interest with their continuing work on broccoli sprouts. So while I choose not to suggest any particular brand of broccoli sprouts, it should be said that when you buy them in the grocery store be sure to purchase only fresh-looking broccoli sprouts. Do not buy them if they are wilted, watery, slimy or foul-smelling. Most sprouts do not have a particularly long shelf-life, and if produce managers are not vigilant, packages of sprouts sometimes stay on the shelf too long. In Japan and some other parts of Asia there is more of a culture of fresh vegetable consumption and by-and-large they take great pride in the quality of their fresh vegetables including sprouts. The Cullman Chemoprotection Center has been very fortunate to have received early support from a Japanese sprout company (Murakami Noen) and a Japanese food company (Kagome Company), and it has been an eye-opener for us to witness the affection and respect with which fresh food is treated there, compared to much of this country. If you're reading this in Japan, I strongly recommend Murakami's broccoli sprouts or broccoli super-sprouts!
Are there “active” freeze-dried broccoli sprout powders that you recommend?
We have not evaluated any such powders that are on the market. When we have utilized such powders, we have made them ourselves at the Cullman Chemoprotection Center. As described in the webinar, the way in which they are prepared is very critical. Since my recent from Johns Hopkins, however, I have associated myself as a scientific advisor with the company FoodNerd, and they do have a very high quality broccoli sprout powder.
Can I eat broccoli seeds?
I am less prepared to answer this question because there may be complicating factors and because little research has been done to address this question. Certainly eating various types of seeds is practice that has been common to humanity since early in evolution when we were hunter-gatherers. Broccoli seeds are bitter if eaten raw, and they taste nutty and pleasant if lightly baked first. Since broccoli seeds – or sprouts for that matter – were never consumed prior to our discovery published in 1997, we do not know how much is too much. Broccoli seeds are loaded with GR (and with myrosinase, but that gets inactivated when you bake or cook the seeds). They also have other oils and indoles and compounds that could be anti-nutritional and undesirable if eaten in large quantities.
Can one cold press juice broccoli sprouts and still receive the benefits of sulforaphane?
“Cold-pressing” has big advantages when one is talking about squeezing the oil out of seeds (e.g., low heat and no hexane or other harsh solvents). However, when talking about broccoli sprouts, the advantages are less obvious. First, not much pressure is needed, and the generation of heat in the process is not a concern. Second, one leaves behind all the fiber when one juices. Third, all the myrosinase gets activated the second you “squish” because you break open the plant cells . . . so if you were to drink that juice immediately, you would get most of the benefit of sulforaphane, which would theoretically be generated in the juice within a matter of seconds to minutes — however there’ll be no shelf life to that juice.
Are “micro broccoli” different than broccoli sprouts? Do they have as much sulforaphane as the sprouts?
“Micro broccoli”, “micro greens” and other larger plants (seedlings) generally don’t have as much sulforaphane per gram (per pound or per ounce) as “sprouts”, but they should have more than market stage heads (the common vegetable form of broccoli). By the way, the heads of broccoli ARE more potent than the stems, for those of you who would prefer to leave the stems behind — but they all have plenty of fiber.