By Standard Process Inc.
In cell and animal models, Standard Process researchers find that Brussels sprout bioactivity is retained despite removal of a key enzyme. This research expands Standard Process’ knowledge of how processing changes natural products and broadens the classification of “health promoting” phytochemicals in whole foods.
Cruciferous vegetables are associated with good health
Like household clutter that accumulates after a busy day, your body builds up “clutter” as a byproduct of what you do (like breathing) and what you’re exposed to (like household chemicals).
To neutralize these potential trouble-causers, the body has a number of mechanisms, one of which is the use of detoxification enzymes.
Cruciferous vegetables like Brussels sprouts have detoxification activity, which is one reason they’re associated with good health. These vegetables contain compounds called glucosinolates and an enzyme called myrosinase. When crucifers are cut or chewed, myrosinase enzymes act on the glucosinolates to make them into other compounds, called metabolites. Cell, animal, and epidemiological studies have demonstrated that these metabolites can increase the activation of detoxification enzymes.
Examining the effects of heat on phytochemical activity
Standard Process researchers examined the effect of processing on cruciferous vegetables by evaluating the difference between blanched and un-blanched Brussels sprouts in human liver cells and mice.
The team’s goal was to observe whether blanching the sprouts (which deactivates the myrosinase enzyme), would eliminate their ability to rev up detoxification enzymes. Myrosinase can be deactivated at temperatures as low as 104 degrees Fahrenheit (water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit).
Findings suggest a complex interaction
As expected, the glucosinolates in the un-blanched sprouts were metabolized and able to increase the detoxification enzymes in the liver cells and in the liver and lungs of mice.
Surprisingly, the blanched sprouts created a significant increase in one type of detoxification enzyme as well, despite the inactivation of myrosinase by the cooking process.
“To us, this data suggests the well-researched metabolites in Brussels sprouts might not be the only compounds in crucifers capable of influencing detoxification enzymes,” explained Melissa Robbins, Standard Process researcher and lead author. In fact, other recent studies have demonstrated that gut bacteria can also convert glucosinolates into these active metabolites providing one explanation for this finding.
“When the plant’s own enzyme is inactivated, our research suggests the sprout’s ability to induce detox enzymes is lower, but still significant compared to a control,” said Robbins. “So in a real world context, eating uncooked cruciferous vegetables gives you the most bang for your buck but eating cooked veggies still provides some of the same benefits.”
This research, published in the Journal of Food Science, expands on the Standard Process Discovery Science team’s cruciferous research focusing on radishes. Because this is a new and exciting area of research, more information is needed to determine how these detox mechanisms work in regard to
different crucifers and in humans.
1Robbins MG et al. (2010). Induction of detoxification enzymes by feeding unblanched Brussels sprouts containing active myrosinase to mice for 2 weeks. J Food Sci.75(6): H190-9.
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This research was provided by Standard Process.
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