Broccoli sprouts’ immune effects

Two 2021 papers, with the first’s subject being sulforaphane’s immune effects:

“Effects of sulforaphane (SFN) on immune response generate scientific interest because of its bioavailability, which is much higher than other phytochemicals, and its capacity to induce Nrf2 target genes. Clinical trials suggest that sulforaphane produces favorable results in cases where pharmaceutical products fail.

SFN exhibits the highest bioavailability among well-known antioxidant phytochemicals, such as quercetin (20-fold higher) and curcumin (80-fold higher). SFN confers a high potential to be used either as a nutraceutical to improve health status, or as pharmaceutical to treat disease states.


Sulforaphane exerts a pleiotropic effect on immunological response, and the final effect depends on cell type.

  • In lymphocyte T-cells, SFN induces ROS production, GSH depletion, and repression of inflammatory cytokines, resulting in suppression of immune and inflammatory responses.
  • In monocytes and macrophages, SFN stimulates immune response by inducing Nrf2, thus triggering antioxidant and anti-inflammatory responses.” “Potential of Sulforaphane as a Natural Immune System Enhancer: A Review”

A second study was Fertilization and Pre-Sowing Seed Soaking Affect Yield and Mineral Nutrients of Ten Microgreen Species:

“Ten tested microgreen species [amaranth, arugula, basil, broccoli, red cabbage, Daikon radish, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, and green pea] in this study varied in fresh and dry shoot weights, shoot height, and mineral nutrient concentrations.”

This study grew sprouts for 6 – 18 days before harvesting. Its study design didn’t require sampling along the way to discover informative compositional changes, as did 2020’s 3-day-old broccoli sprouts have the optimal yields and Broccoli sprout compounds include sinapic acid derivatives.

Their supplier was the same as I used for broccoli and red cabbage seeds. No endorsement is intended.

I’d rather use an unknown broccoli variety than this study’s broccoli cultivar, Waltham 29. It was found to be relatively glucoraphanin-deficient when measured in a 2004 study referenced in Tailoring measurements for broccoli sprouts, 32nd of 34 tested.

Received these today:


I’ve asked for clarification of the red cabbage seed variety I received. Not sure what “Agnostic” means in a “Red Cabbage Microgreen – Agnostic” context. 🙂

Mustard and red cabbage sprouting will follow Improving healthy compounds of broccoli sprouts efforts, minus that study’s laboratory setup and duration. I expect synergistic effects from handling both species’ sprouts with my protocol for microwaved 3-day-old broccoli sprouts.


14 thoughts on “Broccoli sprouts’ immune effects

  1. Thanks for your info. I’ve been really interested in sulforaphane to help with anxiety and depression, and there is quit a bit of evidence suggesting it works. Just curious, i like the 2 hour microwave solution with the seeds as i don’t find eating 100 grams of sprouts very palatable, but i was wondering what the content of sulphoraphane in the seeds were, and if grounding them up would work, and if they would store for any period of time without losing effetiveness.

    • Hi Yowzees! Thanks for commenting.
      Regarding palatability, my current practice of one-third 3-day-old mustard sprouts twice daily works for me. Previous attempts of incorporating mustard for taste weren’t sustainable, mainly because mustard’s allyl isothiocyanate was too much.

      Sulforaphane is ephemeral, and could degrade quickly with grinding seeds. Several studies I’ve curated have recommended as did A follow-on study to 3-day-old broccoli sprouts have the optimal yields:
      “It was best to enzymatically convert to SF before oral intake.” i.e. just before.
      That study developed evidence of sulforaphane degradation over time.

      I hadn’t thought of grinding 2-hour soaked seeds just before microwaving them. Let me know if that works for you.

  2. My God, I love your website – I can’t believe I didn’t find it before, strolling over the internet for 10+ years reading through publications about nutrition/epigenetics. What a fantastic evidence-based source of information with this regard! Unfortunately I lack the scientific background to interpret the value of different scientific studies, but your articles are just fantastic and very helpful.

    I have been sprouting both broccoli and red cabbage seeds the past years. Subsequently I toss the 3-day old red cabbage and broccoli sprouts together in the blender and let this concoction sit briefly after blending, before adding other ingredients to make some sort of (unpalatable) smoothie every day. Sorry for my ignorance, but would this method of preparation in your well-informed opinion increase the amount of SF?
    Indeed, I had read the suggestions to microwave the sprouts. I have tried to heaten up the sprouts in the past, but I just didn’t manage to control the temperature well enough.
    What about freezing the broccoli sprouts; could that increase the SF content? (I tried this, but I never got the sprouts dry enough prior to freezing them to avoid ice crystals).
    I did read your posts about different cultivars of broccoli seeds giving a very different SF yield. It’s a bit frustrating to basically not have a clue how much sulforaphane you may really be adding to your diet.
    I’m a 43kg female; any suggestion of the minimal daily SF-intake I should ideally aim for?

    Do you happen to have looked into (the value of studies) about Raphanus Sativus Sango sprouts? As mentioned, I lack the scientific background, but the publications about the phenolic compounds in Sango sprouts I saw thus far looked fascinating, so I added them to my daily diet. They are very rich in anthocyanins of course. (I don’t recommend blending them – I tried it twice and it was not a favorable experience both times 🙂 )
    Many thanks in advance.

    • I just wanted to chime in, freezing the sprouts does increase sulforaphane similar to heating. Don’t worry about the ice crystals, just break up the sprouts and put them in your blender and you’re good to go.

      I find eating.the seeds.a lot easier to get the dose I need. I just put a tablespoon in 100ml of water and soak for at least two hours then heat it up on high for 30 seconds in the microwave and chew em up. It’s a lot less of a hassle then say making 7 jars of sprouts a week

      • Thank you so much, Yowzees. I really appreciate it. I will start freezing the broccoli sprouts again then. The reason I did not eat the seeds is because I had understood in the past there may be some concerns about the erucic acid content.
        When I just did a search, I found that the author of this website also happen to have written about this topic:
        Erucic acid is also the reason I stopped making mustard (from dry seeds), that I used to make in the past to add to my sprouts. But perhaps my concern wasn’t justified?
        I certainly agree eating the seeds is a lot easier versus growing sprouts however.

        • Hi Leonie! Thanks for commenting.
          I tried blending after microwaving because it would help myrosinase hydrolysis of glucosinolates. It became too messy for me. What blender brand do you use?

          • Sorry for all the separate comments. But I use a Vitamix blender. (Bought it 10+ years ago, and I’ve been using it several times per day every day in that time). It was a bit of an investment initially but it has been the only kitchen machine I used for years and I find it a fantastic blender. I add a bit of water to the mixture of broccoli sprouts (1tbsp seeds) and red cabbage sprouts (1 tbsp seeds), wheat germ for spermidine (2 tbsp seeds), I blend it and let it sit as mentioned. Then I add frozen strawberries, some raspberries, some avocado and 1 date, to make it palatable and instantly eat it. (I like to keep it thick and not add a lot of water, so it has the consistency of icecream). A strong smell develops when I let the concoction sit for a short while prior to adding the other ingredients; and the taste also changes considerably during this time, which I thought may indicate the formation of sulforaphane? (Just guessing here obviously).

    • Also one more thing, i think you want to aim for 20-40mg of sulforaphane a day for maximun therapeutic beneftis. I tablespoon of seeds yields a min of 25mg of sufloraphane, so 1-2 tablespoons of seeds (either sprouted or in seed form) is what you wanna aim for per day. Also all this information comes from the wonderful research contained in the blog.

      • Fantastic, thanks again for the helpful information.
        I sprout 1 tbsp of broccoli and 1 tbsp of red cabbage seeds per day. The sulforaphane yield of red cabbage appears to be a bit lower. I may need to start sprouting a bit more of both. But I also have other things in my daily diet that contain glucoraphanin and myrosinaise, such as 70g Sango sprouts and turnip microgreens. So I had hoped to consume enough daily sulforaphane like this.

        • Hi Leonie! What you’re doing is fine.
          The main thing we’re trying to do with isothiocyanates is to send a weak pro-inflammatory signal to our bodies’ endogenous ARE system. The signal elicits a much stronger response, which exercises our natural defenses.
          Our twice-daily drills make us more proficient at responding to actual emergencies. Post-drill, our bodies recycle material to be ready to respond the next time.
          I do the same thing everyday with β-glucan 1,3/1,6 to train my innate immune system. Microphages in my gut are the first responders.
          Like the very reactive isothiocyanates, I don’t take anything with, or an hour before or after β-glucan 1,3/1,6.
          β-glucan 1,3/1,4 found in oats has different effects.

          • Thank you so much for elaborating about your approach, I really appreciate it! So I take it you eat the broccoli sprouts twice per day? I did indeed read on your website that you prepare two batches per day, so I should probably have realized you eat sprouts twice per day also. I only eat my batch once per day. Albeit as said, I also eat other things during the day that appear to have a decent amount of glucoraphanin & myrosinase, such as sango sprouts, turnip, radish and rocket salad microgreens. Albeit I’m not sure how much the sulforaphane yield would be of those foods.
            (I was just reading up on Josh Mitteldorf’s blog again, where I tend to read regularly and I happened to see a comment of you in the comment section. I guess we all frequent the same blogs/websites 🙂 ).

  3. Thanks also about your recommendations with regard to incorporating B-glucan into your diet. I do eat wheat germ every day, which seems to also have a decent amount of B-glucan, but I may be wrong. (I started adding it to my diet for spermidine). After reading your post however, I am considering also growing sprouted oats and adding them to my daily diet. (The problem is I have so many things I’m sprouting it has become quite a daily task 😉 ).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.