Learn More About Broccoli

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What is broccoli?

One of the most loved yet most despised vegetables, the cruciferous plant we call broccoli evolved from a certain species of Mediterranean wild cabbage, and was brought to America by Italian immigrants. Broccoli did not become widely consumed in this country until the nineteen-twenties.

What are broccoli supplements used for?

Many broccoli supplements contain the powerful nutrient diindolylmethane, or DIM for short. This substance exerts a direct effect on hormone balance, and may therefore help to eliminate estrogen dominance in some women. Estrogen dominance can lead to various symptoms such as mood swings, anxiety, menstrual discomfort, breast tenderness, hot flashes, night sweats, and even stubborn weight gain.

Some scientists believe that exposure to certain industrial chemicals (found in some plastics and pesticides) called xenoestrogens can trigger estrogen dominance. These xenoestrogens can mimic the action of true estrogen well enough to feel our bodies into thinking that they are the real thing, trigger unwanted cell division, and thereby cause the problems mentioned above.

Fortunately, broccoli-derived DIM appears to assist the body in ridding itself of these xenoestrogens through a process called phase two detoxification that takes place in the liver. In turn, tipping the balance away from “bad” estrogen and toward “good” estrogen” may assist in reducing the risk of such serious issues as cervical dysplasia, osteoporosis, breast cancer, fibroid tumors, and uterine cancer. (Note that the total amount of estrogen remains unchanged.)

It is somewhat surprising to note that estrogen—the so-called “female hormone” is also found in men, and that the levels tend to rise with age, thereby neutralizing testosterone. Some scientists believe that DIM may help not only to preserve healthy testosterone levels in older men, but may also help to preserve prostate health and even prevent unwanted weight gain and loss of muscle tissue. Interesting, a number of athletes and body builders, many of them quite young, have recently begun to avail themselves of DIM to maximize the effects of muscle-promoting testosterone in their bodies.

Researchers have also isolated another key component of broccoli called sulforaphane, which may have many protective properties. Sulforaphane, an isothiocyanate is also althought to stimulate phase two detoxification, just as DIM does. Research at UCLA, Johns Hopkins, and elsewhere suggests strongly that sulphoraphane may act as a “chemopreventive” agent that can reduce the risk of developing many different cancers.

How are broccoli supplements taken?

Broccoli supplements are primarily ingested as tablets or capsules. Be sure to check the label of the broccoli product you are going to buy to ensure that it contains clearly specified amounts of DIM and/or sulphoraphane. Most women will only need one dose per day, but those individuals suffering from extreme estrogen dominance might well benefit from taking DIM morning and night. Broccoli supplements are best taken with food. Also, keep in mind that a harmless but startling side effect of broccoli supplements can be a change in the color of your urine, but drinking several extra glasses of water a day usually takes care of this.

Are broccoli supplements safe?

Broccoli supplements appear to be quite safe, but remember to discuss the use of this or any other nutritional product with a knowledgeable physician beforehand.

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