British Journal of Nutrition

Human and Clinical Nutrition

Enhancing sulforaphane absorption and excretion in healthy men through the combined consumption of fresh broccoli sprouts and a glucoraphanin-rich powder

Jenna M. Cramera1, Margarita Teran-Garciaa1 and Elizabeth H. Jefferya1 c1

a1 Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 905 South Goodwin Avenue, Urbana, IL 61801, USA


Sulforaphane (SF) is a chemopreventive isothiocyanate (ITC) derived from glucoraphanin (GRP) hydrolysis by myrosinase, a thioglucoside present in broccoli. The ability of broccoli powders sold as supplements to provide dietary SF is often of concern as many supplements contain GRP, but lack myrosinase. In a previous study, biomarkers of SF bioavailability from a powder rich in GRP, but lacking myrosinase, were enhanced by co-consumption of a myrosinase-containing air-dried broccoli sprout powder. Here, we studied the absorption of SF from the GRP-rich powder used in the previous study, but in combination with fresh broccoli sprouts, which are commercially available and more applicable to the human diet than air-dried sprout powder. A total of four participants each consumed four meals (separated by 1 week) consisting of dry cereal and yogurt with sprouts equivalent to 70 μmol SF, GRP powder equivalent to 120 μmol SF, both or neither. Metabolites of SF were analysed in blood and urine. The 24 h urinary SF-N-acetylcysteine recovery was 65, 60 and 24 % of the dose ingested from combination, broccoli sprout and GRP powder meals, respectively. In urine and plasma, ITC appearance was delayed following the GRP powder meal compared with the sprout and combination meals. Compared with the GRP powder or sprouts alone, combining broccoli sprouts with the GRP powder synergistically enhanced the early appearance of SF, offering insight into the combination of foods for improved health benefits of foods that reduce the risk for cancer.

(Received May 03 2011)

(Revised June 23 2011)

(Accepted July 12 2011)

(Online publication September 13 2011)


c1 Corresponding author: Professor E. H. Jeffery, fax +1 217 265 0925, email


Abbreviations: GRP, glucoraphanin; ITC, isothiocyanate; SF, sulforaphane; SF-NAC, sulforaphane-N-acetylcysteine