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How Glucosinolates and Isothiocyanates Promote Health

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

Story at-a-glance -

  • One plant chemical with well-established health benefits is sulforaphane, found in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli. Sulforaphane is produced from a glucosinolate called glucoraphanin
  • Glucosinolates, which are inert, are converted into bioactive isothiocyanates, of which sulforaphane is one, through an enzyme called myrosinase
  • When consumed, isothiocyanates activate the nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) pathway, which triggers a coordinated suite of protective enzymes in your cells, thereby ratcheting up your endogenous defense mechanisms
  • Sulforaphane also upregulates heat-shock proteins, which play a crucial role in protein folding and aggregation, serving as molecular chaperones to maintain proteins in their native state
  • Moringa contains a powerful isothiocyanate known as moringin, which is just as potent as sulforaphane, and in some assays actually more potent

In this interview, Jed Fahey, Sc.D., a nutritional biochemist, assistant professor at Johns Hopkins Medical School, and director of the Cullman Chemoprotection Center, reveals why cruciferous vegetables are such nutritional gems.

Fahey has spent the past four decades of his life researching plant compounds and the medicinal benefits of vegetables. His extensive training includes plant physiology, human nutrition, phytochemistry and nutritional biochemistry.

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