Impact of thermal processing on sulforaphane yield from Broccoli (Brassica oleracea L. ssp. italica)

Grace C. Wang, Mark Farnham, Elizabeth H. Jeffery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In broccoli, sulforaphane forms when the glucosinolate glucoraphanin is hydrolyzed by the endogenous plant thiohydrolase myrosinase. A myrosinase cofactor directs hydrolysis away from the formation of bioactive sulforaphane and toward an inactive product, sulforaphane nitrile. The cofactor is more heat sensitive than myrosinase, presenting an opportunity to preferentially direct hydrolysis toward sulforaphane formation through regulation of thermal processing. Four broccoli cultivars were microwave heated, boiled, or steamed for various lengths of time. Production of nitrile during hydrolysis of unheated broccoli varied among cultivars from 91 to 52% of hydrolysis products (Pinnacle > Marathon > Patriot > Brigadier). Boiling and microwave heating caused an initial loss of nitrile, with a concomitant increase in sulforaphane, followed by loss of sulforaphane, all within 1 min. In contrast, steaming enhanced sulforaphane yield between 1.0 and 3.0 min in all but Brigadier. These data are proof of concept that steaming for 1.0-3.0 min provides less nitrile and more sulforaphane yield from a broccoli meal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6743-6748
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Issue number27
StatePublished - Jul 11 2012


  • broccoli
  • nitrile
  • steam
  • sulforaphane

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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