Power Sprouts They Re Even Better Than Broccoli At Fighting Cancer

Power Sprouts
They're Even Better Than Broccoli at FightingCancer
Time Magazine

HEALTH SEPTEMBER 29, 1997 VOL. 150 NO. 13
By Christine Gorman

GeorgeBush may have been right about broccoli after all. According to a team ofscientists from Johns Hopkins University, you don't have to eat a full helpingof the hated vegetable to get the health benefits; a spoonful of crunchybroccoli sprouts will do the trick. Writing in the Proceedings of the NationalAcademy of Science, the researchers report that three-day-old broccoli sprouts(which look something like alfalfa sprouts) contain the same cancer-fightingchemical, called sulforaphane, as full-grown spears--butat concentrations 20 to 50 times as high.

Thisis not the first time that scientists have lauded broccoli's anticancerbenefits. Johns Hopkins' Dr. Paul Talalay and his colleagues first isolatedsulforaphane from broccoli in 1992. Tests showed that the compound reduced theincidence of breast tumors in rats by 60%. While vitamin E and otherantioxidants attack rogue cancer-causing molecules directly, sulforaphane worksindirectly by boosting the body's cancer-fighting defenses. Not all broccoliplants are created equal, however. The amount of sulforaphane found in freshbroccoli varies wildly, making the vegetable an unreliable anticancer agent.

That'swhere the sprouts comein. After analyzing 50 different varieties of broccoli, the Hopkins researchersdiscovered that 15 of those strains produced seedlings with extraordinarily highconcentrations of sulforaphane. The sprouts have a mildly spicy taste, whichshould make them more palatable than full-grown broccoli, especially whensprinkled on sandwiches and salads. But you probably won't find them at yourlocal health-food store--not yet, anyway. And Talalay cautions do-it-yourselfersagainst trying to grow their own sprouts. Most broccoli seeds, he notes, aresoaked in fungicides and pesticides.

--Reportedby David Bjerklie/New York