“We spent years figuring out the timing and optimal conditions for the sprouting of broccoli sprouts,” Andrew Wheeler, marketing specialist at FutureCeuticals, told NutraIngredients-USA, adding that the impetus for launching the ingredient was sheer market demand. “It’s highly specialized, but we have this down to a science. The end result is a high-potency, organic broccoli sprout that’s standardized to higher levels than other broccoli powders.”
It begins with seed selection—a rather painstaking process to ensure each seed has the right properties. “We might have to disqualify certain seeds to make sure have exactly what we’re looking for. We only need that perfect seed, if you will, that produces the best sprout,” Wheeler said.
Once selected, the seeds are sprouted on site at Futureceuticals Momence, IL facility and harvested when the actives are at their peak. The material is then flash-dried, ground and sifted to produce a “highly functional” material that’s standardized to 4,000 ppm minimum sulforaphane potential, 10,000 ppm minimum glucoraphanin and 15,000 ppm minimum total glucosinolates.
Glucosinolates are a large class of active plant chemicals commonly found in cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, horseradish, broccoli and broccoli sprouts. When glucoraphanin-rich foods are eaten, the glucoraphanin are metabolized by the body into isothiocynates (such as sulforaphane, which have been suggested to be substantially responsible for these foods’ health benefits—among them maintaining healthy lipid levels, cardiovascular health and stimulating the body’s internal antioxidant system.
Futureceuticals: Heat destroys myrosinase, so proper processing key
But research has shown that most supplements designed to provide these glucosinolates have the enzyme inactivated, meaning the body absorbs five times less sulforaphane metabolites and eightfold less of erucin metabolites than when the whole food is consumed (see related study here).
Wheeler called the study's results somewhat inconclusive, noting it is difficult to determine whether the materials were being compared on a level playing field without knowing how much myrosinase was present in each tested sample.
"Yes, it is indeed true that there is evidence that myrosinase activity in broccoli supplements is essential for the conversion of glucoraphanin to sulforaphane. And it is also true that improper processing of some broccoli supplements deactivates myrosinase activity."
Still, he claimed, the ability of the body to absorb five times more sulforphane metabolites in the presence of natural myrosinase is likely due to the fact that there is five times more sulphoraphane available to be absorbed from the "more efficient" conversion of glucoraphanin to sulphoraphane.
"Sprouting does not work against this in any way," he added. "Fresh broccoli sprouts are high in both glucoraphanin as well as myrosinase. Heat is what destroys myrosinase, so it is important to eat fresh broccoli vs. cooked, steamed or blanched broccoli, in which cases the myrosinase is destroyed. The same holds true for sprouts used as dietary supplement ingredients: it is best to source dried sprouts with a high and active level of myrosinase as well as a product that is high in glucoraphanin - the precursor to sulphoraphane.
"FutureCeuticals is a leader in high-quality, high-activity broccoli supplement ingredients and has done extensive research on the active components in our products."
Available in both conventional and organic versions, the ingredient can be incorporated anywhere one would use sprout powder or flour. Wheeler said nothing else on the market compares.
“I cannot see where anyone else is offering a 100% natural organic broccoli sprout powder. Our material provides a unique, highly standardized organic ingredient.”
In addition to capsules and tablets, the ingredient shows promise in green beverage formulas, baked products and even soups. It can also be applied as a pre-blend with three or four other organic ingredients, without traceability concerns, as broccoli sprout powder is grown and processed in the US.
“We have a lot of customers coming to us wanting products grown in the USA. They are able to put on the label that it is an American-grown product that’s made entirely in the USA. This enables our customers to not have to concern themselves with an audit trail of where their ingredients are coming from, which is what their customers are increasingly looking to know.”