Broccoli: Food Superhero? DNA Whisperer?

What makes broccoli so super?

Why is this topic important? in a phrase - our world is toxic. My life experience and my research have confirmed something many of us know: Humans have added persistent toxins to our environment at unprecedented levels and rates. Learn how you can protect yourself in my TED talk video below. 

Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables can protect all your cells from toxic damage, head off chronic disease before it shows up, and allow you to be here longer for your friends and family - increasing the amount of time you are on the planet and available to make a difference.

There are many health issues associated with toxicity:

  • weight problems
  • blood sugar imbalances
  • mood/sleep disorders
  • low energy
  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • the list goes on...

Fortunately, there are many, many ways to detoxify our bodies. In my extensive research, cruciferous veggies are unmatched in both their efficiency and effectiveness as detoxifiers.

So, what’s the deal with broccoli then?

Not just broccoli, but all cruciferous vegetables, have been shown to assist the body’s natural detoxification mechanisms. Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kohlrabi, kale, collard greens, bok choy, cress, Brussels sprouts, arugula, maca, radish, daikon, and mustard.

How do cruciferous vegetables actually work?

These vegetables are high in a substance called sulforaphane (SFN), which prompts our DNA to activate hundreds of antioxidant and detoxification genes. Normal antioxidants have a 6-hour window of protection; SFN has a 72-to-94-hour window of protection! Rather than acting on a one-to-one ratio, SFN instead causes cells to become manufacturers of antioxidants and detoxification enzymes.

Which are the best cruciferous vegetables to eat for detoxing?

Broccoli sprouts are the highest in sulforaphane, followed by cress, arugula, broccoli, and radishes. But they all have it in valuable quantities.

Can I overdose on cruciferous vegetables?

Overdosing is extremely rare. The research shows that you can cause goiter-like issues, IF:

  • you eat over 2 pounds of raw cruciferous vegetables per day, and
  • if you have iodine insufficiency, and
  • if you have hypo-thyroid issues

How do I prepare and eat cruciferous vegetables?

For general health, and specifically for detox, cruciferous vegetables are best raw or lightly steamed.

Why is raw or lightly cooked best?

Sulforaphane is attached to glucose, and it needs an enzyme called myrosinase in order to activate. This enzyme is deactivated by microwave cooking as well as long-term cooking. So, you’ll get the most benefit if you eat them lightly steamed (for 2-5 minutes only) or raw. However, eating cruciferous vegetables in any form (sautéed, roasted, raw, or steamed) is protective and beneficial for health. I’ve added a recipe section at the end of this document to give you ideas for some delicious meals you can prepare.


Some of my clients who have been prescribed thyroid medication have been told to stay away from cruciferous vegetables. The reason for this is that the isothiocyanates in the vegetables may bind to the iodine in the meds, thus preventing absorption by the body. However, the instructions for thyroid medication include taking it 30 minutes before any food, so this should not be an issue. 

Recipes From

Detox Salad

Winter Green Smoothie

Raw Thai Wraps with Cilantro Pumpkin Seed Pate

Peach Ginger Mint Green Smoothie

Kale with Caramelized Onions

Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with Shallots


Stay up to date with the current science and recipes that can help make your family healthy.


Hey Tom, Love all your work, going through the coaching series now! Amazing!!! Do the broccoli sprouts add to our FODMAP load?? Thank you, Deidre McGannon RD

Hi Ali and Tom, I just started the Elimination Diet today. Almost done with day 1 of detox and looking for protein sources. I know I will not waste away in 2 days, but just wondering if you have any suggestions. Can't wait for day 3 to have wild game!!! I miss my pastured eggs by the way. Is it common for people to email and whine to you while starting this program or am I the only one:) It will be so worth it in the end!!! Thank you, Tammy Gallow

Hello, I eat a lot of sulforaphane rich veggies, but I have an allergy to broccoli... Boo! What is the second best in this family?

Hi Tom! Absolutely loved your TedX talk and the above article. Would you be interested in learning of something that is proven (in a peer-reviewed published article) to be 7X more powerful than sulforaphane in "turning on" Nrf2? Please email me if so. Shaun McKee, MD

I'm in phase 2 of your elimination diet (love your book and already have 3 friends jumping into it!) and noticed broccoli seemingly bloats me and gives me mild indigestion. Does this alone mean I should eliminate it? It was cooked and puréed (your creamy broccoli mushroom soup).

There's an herbal blend that is 7X more effective at gene activation than sulforaphane that doesn't cause bloat - if you want to know feel free to reach out via facebook or email

There's an herbal blend that is 7X more effective at gene activation than sulforaphane that doesn't cause bloat - if you want to know feel free to reach out via facebook or email

Are the foods safe for my Sibo and Mthfr mutation. I have both of your books.Whole Life Nutrition & Elimination Diet. Went on an elimination before found out sugar, gluten, and dairy are terrible for my Sibo. Went to my daughters for 2 weeks and I am miserable. So remembered I had ordered your books and going to start elimination diet again to settle my insides down. Everything came back after going off my diet of no sugar,dairy,gluten and eggs. Was very good since January. I probably know your answer but if you have any more information for that would be helpful. Thank you so much in advance. Also I have Hashimoto's and read Dr Wentz books and she is a big fan of yours. As if you didn't know. Thank you again... Arlene Murphy

Have been following elimination diet since December. But am now discovering that I am now very histamine intolerant. I can tolerate fewer and fewer foods. Suggestions?

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