Glucoraphanin is a naturally occurring compound found almost exclusively in broccoli. Many studies around the world have associated broccoli with reducing the risks of developing certain chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease, and on-going research is pointing towards glucoraphanin being the compound responsible for these health benefits. Beneforté broccoli contains 2-3 times the amount of glucoraphanin than other broccoli varieties.
When we eat broccoli, the glucoraphanin is converted into another compound called sulphoraphane, which turns on our antioxidant defences. These help to rebalance our metabolic machinery and remove some of the potentially damaging effects of an imbalanced metabolism. These metabolic imbalances contribute to an increased risk of getting chronic diseases such as heart disease and some cancers. We think the reduced risks of contracting these diseases in people who eat diets rich in broccoli and other crucifers is down to the ‘retuning’ of our metabolic machinery through the antioxidant defences that are turned on after we eat glucoraphanin.
We are now investigating the links between glucoraphanin, antioxidants, metabolism and disease. Glucoraphanin is converted into sulphoraphane by the beneficial bacteria that live in our digestive systems. A few hours after eating broccoli, sulphoraphane is seen in our blood stream. From here, it enters the cells of our liver and other tissues, where it can activate our bodies’ antioxidant defences.
In our cells there is a protein called Nrf2. Nrf2 is usually tethered to another protein called KEAP1, which drags Nrf2 off to be degraded for natural recycling. When sulphoraphane enters our cells, it breaks the link between Nrf2 and KEAP1. Nrf2 is now free to enter the nucleus of the cell, which is where the DNA is kept. DNA contains all of the instructions, in the form of genes, for making us and all of the proteins and enzymes that keep alive and healthy. But it is important that the correct genes are only switched on at the right time. Genes have a special bit of code that tells them whether to be on or off, and Nrf2 binds to this piece of code for the genes that make antioxidant enzymes and activates them. Sulphoraphane is among the most potent inducers of antioxidant genes known, which is why we believe the higher levels you get from eating Beneforté broccoli are so beneficial.
Beneforté broccoli is the best way of ensuring that you get a sizeable portion of glucoraphanin in your diet. We are still carrying out research to work out how much we need to eat to get the health benefits. Some studies suggest we need to eat the equivalent of one portion of ordinary broccoli every day, while other studies suggest we can eat less. This may be because the levels of glucoraphanin in broccoli can be quite variable. This is why we developed Beneforté broccoli, to guarantee that you get your glucoraphanin.
Three years of field trials at over 50 different sites in Europe and North America have shown that Beneforté broccoli consistently produces 2-3 times the amount of glucoraphanin than other leading varieties of broccoli, without affecting yield, quality or the levels of other nutrients. Sulphur is an essential component of glucoraphanin and Beneforté broccoli is better at absorbing sulphur from the soil, and also better at channelling this sulphur into producing glucoraphanin than other broccoli varieties, which in poor soils can struggle to produce much glucoraphanin. This explains how Beneforté consistently and reliably delivers more glucoraphanin than ordinary broccoli.