They look like alfalfa sprouts but taste like radishes and they are about to become a popular superfood ingredient.
A new study published in the Journal of Cancer Prevention Research on June 9 has demonstrated that broccoli sprouts play a large part in flushing out harmful chemicals from the body. These harmful chemicals can include anything from benzene and acrolein, that we breathe in from air pollution and household cleaning products like glue, paint or detergent. An overexposure to benzene can cause cell disfunction, while acrolein can cause irritation to the eyes and respiratory tract.
The study involved 291 participants from Qidong, an area by the Yangtze River delta in China known for its high levels of air pollution, taking part in a 12-week study. Participants were divided into two groups: those who drank about half a cup of a ‘broccoli sprout-derived beverage’ daily and the control group that drank a placebo beverage of pineapple and lime juice.
Discovery: The broccoli-sprout beverage helped detoxify participants
A comparison of urine samples taken before and after the study revealed significant increases in the levels of detoxification byproducts of benzene and arcolein in sprout drinkers. The byproduct of benzene detoxification shot up by 61 percent, while the byproduct of arcolein detoxification increased by 23 percent. Participants in the control group did not experience the same results.
The long term benefits
Broccoli sprouts could be an inexpensive and easy way to help keep carcinogen levels down in the body, however further research will need to be conducted prior to scientists declaring the humble vegetable as cancer-fighting.
Lung cancer rates among men in Qidong over the last 40 years have tripled, according to the study which sparked the interest in the population from researchers. The study lays an important foundation in further investigation into determining whether super foods like broccoli actually prevent cancer or other diseases.
Broccoli sprouts can easily be added to any salad or sandwich. It is low in saturated fat and sodium and a great source of vitamins A and C, iron, potassium, folate, calcium and dietary fibre.