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May 2022


Sulforaphane promises to prevent and treat obesity

  • The prevalence of obesity is increasing globally, leading to a decline in patients' quality of life and increased healthcare costs. Obesity is often accompanied by systemic low-grade inflammation and accumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), and nuclear factor E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) is a major regulator of redox homeostasis. Sulforaphane(SFN), the strongest inducer of Nrf2 found in edible plants, has great potential in preventing obesity.

    According to a study from Kanazawa University in 2014, SFN may ameliorate obesity by increasing adipocyte browning to enhance energy expenditure and reduce metabolic endotoxemia by improving gut bacterial flora. In other words, SFN helps fight obesity by altering energy expenditure in the body and improving the gut microbiota.

    In one study published in 2017, researchers compared the weight of mice fed a high-fat diet supplemented with SFN to mice fed a high-fat diet that did not contain SFN. They found that compared with mice that did not take SFN, the mice that took SFN gained 15% less weight, their visceral fat dropped 20%, their hepatic steatosis increased less, and their blood sugar levels dropped.

    Findings from University of Michigan showed that SFN reverses leptin resistance and reduces obesity. SFN reversed diet-induced obesity through a predominantly, but not exclusively, Nrf2-dependent mechanism that requires a functional leptin receptor signaling and hyperleptinemia. SFN suppressed fatty acid synthesis while promoting ribosome biogenesis, reducing ROS accumulation, and resolving inflammation, therefore representing a unique transcriptional program that leads to protection from obesity.

    2018, Catholic University of Murcia published the results of clinical trials. As obesity is linked to an inflammatory component, the aim of the study was to evaluate the anti-inflammatory action of broccoli sprouts in overweight adult subjects. An in vivo controlled study was performed in 40 healthy overweight subjects (, NCT 03390855). Treatment phase consisted on the consumption of broccoli sprouts (30 g/day) during 10 weeks and the follow-up phase of 10 weeks of normal diet without consumption of these broccoli sprouts. The consumption of broccoli sprouts is able to affect IL-6 and C-reactive protein levels in overweight subjects, hence attenuating chronic inflammation.

    Taken together, SFN is expected to prevent and treat obesity and more clinical trials are needed.

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