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Sulforaphane Benefits Autism and DIY Broccoli Sprouts


Did you know that broccoli sprouts can improve autism symptoms and other neuroinflammatory conditions?

At first, I thought it was too good to be true until I looked into the science much further.

How could this one tiny food do so much good?

Broccoli sprouts possess large amounts of a compound called glucoraphanin, the precursor to sulforaphane. Sulforaphane is a phytochemical that has been known to help increase glutathione production.

Glutathione is the major antioxidant in the body and reduce oxidative stress. It supports a strong immune system, and is also crucial for the nervous system and gastrointestinal system. It’s also very important in detoxification. I’ve written about sulforaphane with regard to reducing free radicals associated with pesticide use.

Studies show children with autism are low in glutathione(1).  And boosting glutathione supports the underlying systems negatively impacted in autism and can reduce the symptoms of autism.

And broccoli sprouts can help.

Studies on sulforaphane show it improves mitochondrial function and reduces neuroinflammation, and has been recently shown to improve autism symptoms(2).

Another recent small clinical trial showed that sulforaphane from broccoli sprouts significantly reduced the behavioral symptoms of ASD(3). This new research gives us hope, as broccoli sprouts contain 30 times the amount of sulforaphane precursor as the mature broccoli plant!

This is promising news for autism!

We make our own broccoli sprouts, and you can too. It’s very easy.

Here is my DIY broccoli sprout recipe:


DIY Broccoli Sprouts


2 TBS broccoli seeds I like Johnny Seeds and Sprout People brand seeds.

1 quart sized mason jar, sterilized (or well scrubbed with really hot water and dried naturally).

  • Put 2 Tablespoons broccoli seeds in the mason jar
  • Fill half way with water
  • Swirl it around to agitate the seeds, and get little beads of air around them
  • Soak for 8 hours
  • Put a sprouting lid on the mason jar
  • Drain water out, and leave jar upside down to keep water out
  • Water daily by filling it up and draining it upside down.

Keep in dark place or indirect sunlight. they will start sprouting after about 24 hours

The sprout are typically done around 5 days. For last few hours. put them in the sun to turn them green. It doesn’t need to be direct sunlight, indirect works fine.

After they green on the outside, you can break apart the sprouts some, to get the inside green as well.

  • Separate the seed hulls from the sprouts. I use a mini salad spinner. I fill it with water, and agitate all the sprouts. Most of the hulls will float to the top, some will sink. As they float, I keep filling it with water and draining it off until as many hulls are separated as possible.
  • Drain them again.

Store your sprouts in the refrigerator. They should last about 4 days (although in my house they run out before then). Basically, when I harvest one batch, I start soaking another! That way I always have some sprouts on hand.

Keep in mind, these sprouts are spicy! So to make them most enjoyable, especially for kids, I put them on salads, mix them 50/50 with sauerkraut to make “sprout kraut”, or put them in wraps/sandwiches.




(1) James, S. Jill, et al. “Metabolic biomarkers of increased oxidative stress and impaired methylation capacity in children with autism.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 80.6 (2004): 1611-1617.

(2) Singh K. et al. Sulforaphane treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 111, 15550–15555 (2014).

(3) Lynch R. et al. Sulforaphane from Broccoli Reduces Symptoms of Autism: A Follow-up Case Series from a Randomized Double-Blind Study. Sage Journals (2017). DOI: 10.1177/2164957X17735826






Hi, I’m Julie Matthews, a Certified Nutrition Consultant, Author, and Published Researcher. I teach parents and practitioners that children with autism, ADHD, and related disorders can improve and heal, and that there’s hope for their children. Then I educate and empower them to make strategic dietary changes that positively affect children’s health, which in turn helps their learning and behavior. With 18 years of experience and my unique range of knowledge, from nutrition research and clinical experience to cooking in the kitchen for my own family, I’ve created a much-needed community for parents and practitioners looking to help children with autism live happy, healthy lives. Join us.

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4 responses to “Sulforaphane Benefits Autism and DIY Broccoli Sprouts”

  1. Ken Lemons says:

    As you are aware most autistic kids are very picky eaters….

  2. Where I am in Australia, we receive lots of feedback from clinicians who use 100% whole broccoli sprout capsules to treat their autism patients. (Easier for doctors to prescribe than fresh sprouts with their uncertain sulforpahane yield).

    (I must also disclose that my company manufactures these high sulforpahane-yielding capsules as well as a tasty powdered version naturally flavored with pomegranate juice and coconut water for children who can’t swallow capsules).

    Around 20 mg daily of sulforaphane is the dose we recommend for activating the expression of the 2000 or so genes that are associated with cellular defences. This includes that genes coding for glutathione.

  3. Rosalie Schreiber says:

    thank you for this wonderful step by step guide to access a wonderful food that is life changing, i always wondered if i did it right, now more confident and motivated I thank you!

  4. Mandeep says:

    My son is really picky. Can I make a puree?