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
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.