By Steve Meyerowitz, Sproutman®

You’ve heard me talk about the anti-cancer benefits of eating broccoli sprouts and the sprouts of the entire brassica-broccoli family—Kale, Radish, Cabbage, Broccoli Raab, and Mustard. They all contain high levels of a group of plant compounds called glucosinolates that convert in our digestive system into isothiocyanates. You might remember the most famous of which is sulforaphane. In over 200 studies, sulforaphane has been proven to interrupt the growth cycle of cancer cells. They accomplish this by breaching the gap between the cancer cell’s DNA synthesis and mitosis.

This is why we should all be eating broccoli sprouts or its sister plants on a daily basis: broccoli raab, radish, cabbage, kale or mustard sprouts. Why the sprouts? Because the levels of glucosinolates in these sprouts are up to 100 times higher in than in the corresponding mature vegetables. That means eating these sprouts in your daily salad supplies a sufficient dose to provide a therapeutic effect––killing cancer cells. Eating mature broccoli will not accomplish that. This is why sprouts are considered “functional foods.” Because their concentration of medicinal compounds is sufficient to provide a therapeutic dose, especially when repeated daily. Think of the sprouts as you do herbal medicine. You take echinacea, ginseng, licorice, St. John’s wart, mullein, etc. because they contain concentrated natural medicines.

In this joint autism study by scientists at Mass. General Hospital for Children and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, 40 autistic males from age 13 to 27 were treated daily for 18 weeks with sulforaphane derived from broccoli sprouts or a placebo. Researchers found substantially improved behavior for those taking the sulforaphane.  Although this is a small study, sulforaphane definitely improved the classic behavioral symptoms of autism (ASD).

According to the report published in the Journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers said: “those who received a daily dose of the chemical sulforaphane experienced substantial improvements in their social interaction and verbal communication, along with decreases in repetitive, ritualistic behaviors, compared to those who received a placebo.”
“We believe that this may be pre-liminary evidence for the first treatment for autism that improves symptoms by apparently correcting some of the underlying cellular problems,” says Paul Talalay, M.D., professor of pharma-cology and molecular sciences, who has researched sulforaphane in broccoli sprouts and its sister brassica sprouts for the past 25 years. Certainly, we are still far from declaring victory over autism, but according to Andrew Zimmerman, M.D., professor of pediatric neurology at Univ. Mass. Memorial Medical Center, “This gives us important insights into what might help.”