What are the Benefits of Sulforaphane?








By Kylie Nicholson

NOV 14, 2022



Sulforaphane is a sulfur-rich compound found in broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and other cruciferous vegetables. When ingested, this compound can help improve digestion and heart health, and even has anti-cancerous properties. Read on to learn more about the advantages of ingesting sulforaphane and applying it topically.

What are the effects of eating sulforaphane?

Aside from the vegetables mentioned earlier, sulforaphane is common in other leafy green vegetables. If you still doubt why you should eat your greens, here are a few reasons why you should:


Antioxidant

Sulforaphane is a natural antioxidant capable of neutralizing damaging particles that hinder the production of healthy cells. These tiny particles are known as free radicals, which accumulate in the body due to UV damage, pollution, and certain foods.2 Antioxidants also improve the body’s cardiovascular health.3 The Natural Library of Medicine journal reports that sulforaphane can also reduce oxidative stress through phosphorylation. Antioxidants are also good for your complexion. What do antioxidants do for your skin? In a nutshell, they protect your skin from free radicals and other harmful compounds. What are free radicals on your skin? They are the compounds that trigger skin problems like pigmentation, wrinkles, fine lines, and even crepey skin.


Chemoprotective

As previously mentioned, sulforaphane has anti-cancer properties. It inhibits carcinogens explicitly from binding and damaging your DNA. Ingesting sulforaphane has also been shown to slow tumor growth by blocking DNA mutations, which is beneficial for cancer prevention.2 Some cancer research studies suggest that sulforaphane can trigger cancer cells to self-destruct.


Anti-inflammatory

Sulforaphane is also known to have anti-inflammatory properties. One of the biggest causes of heart disease is inflammation, specifically inflamed arteries. For this reason, eating sulforaphane is good for your heart.


Anti-diabetic

It turns out sulforaphane can lower your blood sugar by 6.5%, which is good news for people with diabetes. It also improves hemoglobin A1c, an important marker of long-term blood-sugar control.

Other potential benefits of eating sulforaphane include protecting against sun damage in the skin, protection from brain damage, improvements in communication/interaction in patients with autism1, and decreasing the risks of osteoporosis, constipation, and obesity.3
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Are there any side effects of sulforaphane?

Eating too much sulforaphane can cause slight digestive problems.3 It is recommended to consume 400 mcg or less per day. Toxic levels are unlikely to be reached when consuming sulforaphane via natural plant food sources and only need to be monitored if sulforaphane is consumed as a supplement.

What food has the most sulforaphane?

Cruciferous vegetables are a specific class of vegetables known for their high sulforaphane levels and high levels of other beneficial vitamins and minerals, such as vitamins C, E, and K, folate, fiber, and carotenoids. Here are some examples of cruciferous veggies:4
  • Arugula
  • Bok Choy
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Collard Greens
  • Horseradish
  • Kale
  • Radishes
  • Rutabaga
  • Turnips
  • Watercress
  • Wasabi
Sulforaphane also comes in oral supplement form, such as pills, powders, or liquids, which are effective ways of consuming this nutrient. However, it should be monitored to avoid exceeding the recommended daily dose.

Preparing sulforaphane-rich foods

Sulforaphane is activated in plants when two chemicals are introduced together, glucoraphanin and myrosinase. The act of chopping, blending, and even chewing releases myrosinase, which maximizes the benefits of sulforaphane.

Other preparation methods, including cooking, heating in the microwave, and boiling, lower the sulforaphane content. Eating these vegetables raw allows for maximum absorption of sulforaphane. But if you have to cook it, you can retain the glucoraphanin by keeping them under 284˚F (140˚C).1 Many people would say the best cooked broccoli is boiled. However, raw broccoli is much healthier.

What makes sulforaphane a powerful supplement?

As mentioned earlier, some of the health benefits of sulforaphane include boosting heart, brain, and bone health. Additional research still needs to be conducted, but it’s clear that ingesting sulforaphane has anti-cancer properties and promotes skin health.7

Is oral or topical sulforaphane better?

There are different benefits from ingesting sulforaphane versus applying it topically. Eating sulforaphane-rich foods delivers these benefits to different bodily systems, while applying it topically targets specific areas of the skin. For overall health, ingesting sulforaphane is the superior method, while applying topically is superior for focusing sulforaphane’s effects on the skin.

Sulforaphane and Benefits for Your Skin

Sulforaphane has been shown to protect the skin from UVB rays (5).UV damage, which is responsible for up to eighty percent of the damage that skin incurs (6), causes DNA mutations (a direct link to skin cancer), oxidative stress, and inflammation, which can lead to tumor development.

Sulforaphane also protects the body from UV rays by upregulating the expression of cytoprotective proteins within our bodies. Cytoprotective proteins are responsible for combatting oxidants and electrophiles, harmful molecules that can damage healthy cells and tissues, making sulforaphane an effective tool for combatting skin damage.7

One way to introduce sulforaphane topically is by using OneSkin‘s OS-01 BODY, which contains sulforaphane in its Lepidium Sativum Sprout Extract. Studies have shown that topical application of sulforaphane to the skin can help prevent cell damage caused by UV light exposure by up to 37%.7 While sulforaphane should not be used as a replacement for sunscreen, it can be a powerful ally for healing sun damage to the skin. 8

Key Takeaways

  • Sulforaphane is a naturally occurring chemical in many cruciferous vegetables that holds many potential health benefits due to its antioxidant, chemoprotective, anti-inflammatory, and anti-diabetic properties.
  • While there is nothing wrong with cooking cruciferous veggies, the best way to absorb the sulforaphane would be to eat them raw.
  • Sulforaphane can heal UV damage from the sun on the skin, potentially decreasing the risk of skin cancer.


Sources:

  1. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/sulforaphane
  2. https://www.mdanderson.org/publications/focused-on-health/sulforaphane-benefits--how-leafy-veggies-like-broccoli-and-bruss.h13-1593780.html
  3. https://www.verywellhealth.com/sulforaphane-5083128
  4. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/diet/cruciferous-vegetables-fact-sheet
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35700067/
  6. https://www.oneskin.co/blogs/reference-lab/sun-damaged-skin-what-it-is-how-you-can-prevent-it-and-how-you-can-repair-it#
  7. https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.0708710104
  8. https://www.science.org/content/article/broccoli-your-skin

Reviewed by Alessandra Zonari, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) and Co-Founder of OneSkin

Alessandra earned her Master’s degree in stem cell biology, and her PhD in skin regeneration and tissue engineering at the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil in collaboration with the 3B’s Research Group in Portugal. Alessandra did a second post-doctoral at the University of Coimbra in Portugal. She is a co-inventor of three patents and has published 20 peer-reviewed papers in scientific journals.

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