Broccoli Antioxidant Market to Grow, Brassica Predicts


The company announced it has renewed an exclusive, worldwide patent license with Johns Hopkins University.

Brassica (Baltimore, MD) is betting on a growing market for glucoraphanin, an antioxidant compound found largely in broccoli. The company announced it has renewed an exclusive, worldwide patent license with Johns Hopkins University until 2032, enabling Brassica to expand the market for its SGS glucoraphanin ingredient.

The Johns Hopkins patent covers the extraction technology for the phytonutrients glucosinolates (including glucoraphanin) and isothiocynates (including sulforaphane), which are largely found in cruciferous seeds and sprouts and especially broccoli. (The company says that the seeds and young sprouts of broccoli contain 20 to 50 times more glucoraphanin compared to adult broccoli.) The Johns Hopkins patent also covers the use of these phytonutrient antioxidants for antioxidant-related health benefits.

With its SGS ingredient, Brassica is focusing on glucoraphanin. Thanks to its licensed extraction technology as well as the company’s seed-sourcing expertise and manufacturing, SGS contains the highest level of glucoraphanin-a minimum of 13.5%-of any broccoli extract currently on the market, Brassica says.

Glucoraphanin, as well as the enzyme myrosinase, are both present in broccoli. When a person eats broccoli, the act of chewing on broccoli (thereby damaging the broccoli) causes glucoraphanin and myrosinase to interact. Once myrosinase acts upon it, glucoraphanin is converted to the active, “potent” antioxidant sulforaphane.

When glucoraphanin is consumed as a dietary supplement ingredient without myrosinase, the body’s natural microflora converts a percentage of glucoraphanin to sulforaphane, explains Sarah Sullivan, Brassica’s vice president of sales and marketing. But, she adds, “Unfortunately, this process is variable, and there is really no way of knowing whether you are a high or a low converter. Studies have shown that conversion varies from about 1%–40%.”

As an antioxidant ingredient, glucoraphanin, as an “indirect” antioxidant, does not necessarily compete with “direct” antioxidant ingredients like vitamins C and E, Sullivan says. But there are benefits of supplementing with glucoraphanin. Unlike vitamin C, for instance, whose presence in the body expires within one to three hours and thus requires replenishing after a period of time, “When you consume glucoraphanin, your body converts it to sulforaphane and then uses it to up-regulate a system of enzymes called phase 2 detoxification enzymes,” Sullivan says. “These enzymes work in your body in the absence of glucoraphanin, but when the nutrient is consumed, it boosts these enzymes so that they are functioning at a heightened state for up to three days, making them more effective.”

SGS is self-affirmed GRAS for use in beverages, and Brassica has also submitted a GRAS dossier to FDA. So far, SGS is used in Brassica’s own Brassica Tea products, as well as in a variety of dietary supplements by other marketers. Brassica says SGS usage could expand into foods as well.

But there is still a lot of room for growth. Sullivan says that while consumer awareness of the benefits of glucoraphanin is still limited, “As more studies are published about the health benefits of this nutrient, and as we expand our footprint in the supplement industry, I think we will see a steady increase in awareness over the next few years.”


Jennifer Grebow
Nutritional Outlook magazine


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