Broccoli is a much-loved superfood, but did you know that the first shoots that blossom from the broccoli seed are as nutritious and delicious in their own right?
In this article, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about this newly hyped health food, broccoli sprouts. We’ll explain what they are, and the health benefits which reveal why they’re becoming such a big deal.
What are broccoli sprouts?
Broccoli sprouts are the beginnings of a broccoli plant. Before the broccoli is the dense head of cruciferous vegetable that we all know, it starts life as wispy little sprouts, that look similar to watercress.
Broccoli sprouts are lighter with a fresher flavour that’s cleaner and grassier than that of a head of broccoli. Health fanatics adore them because they contain many more antioxidants per pound than broccoli.1
Benefits of eating broccoli sprouts
All cruciferous vegetables contain a compound called sulforaphane. Still, broccoli sprouts contain sulforaphane at a higher concentration than larger vegetables, like kale, broccoli, or Brussels sprouts.2
Health benefits linked to eating broccoli sprouts high in sulforaphane include:
- Enhanced heart health. Studies suggest that regular sulforaphane consumption improves the health of the arteries, enhancing overall heart health3
- Lower blood pressure. Sulforaphane is linked to lower blood pressure, which decreases the risk of developing heart issues.4
- Reduced blood sugar levels. A 12-week study showed that those who regularly ate foods rich in sulforaphane had lower resting blood sugar than those who didn’t.5
- Enhanced UV protection. Sulforaphane is likely to decrease your risk of developing sun damage, as eating it increases the body’s ability to protect itself from harmful UV rays.6
- Protect against cognitive decline. Consuming sulforaphane is associated with reduced risk of cognitive decline.7
- Reduce constipation for sufferers. A 12-week trial found that participants with constipation who began eating more broccoli sprouts found their symptoms alleviated.8
Downsides of broccoli sprouts
Side effects from eating broccoli sprouts or other sulforaphane-rich vegetables are so rare that the medical community considers them to have no substantial side effects.9
Cruciferous vegetables do contain raffinose, which can cause bloating in individuals who have trouble digesting this compound.10 Drinking plenty of water while eating can help reduce bloating and discomfort experienced while eating cruciferous veggies, as can properly cooking them.
Broccoli sprouts nutrition
A 100g bowl of broccoli sprouts contains:11
- 46 calories
- 107 mg of calcium
- 43 mg of iron
- 57g of protein
- 57g of carbohydrates
- 6g of fibre
For a vegetable, broccoli sprouts have a relatively high protein content. Protein consumption is linked to increased muscle mass, and muscle mass is associated with better overall health outcomes.12,13
Broccoli sprouts are very fibrous. Fibre promotes digestive health. Furthermore, regularly ingesting fibre is linked to improved gut health, a health outcome which is strongly associated with better mental health.14,15
Last updated: 30 October 2020