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

J Agric Food Chem. 2012 Jul 11;60(27):6743-8. doi: 10.1021/jf2050284. Epub 2012 May 15.


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.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brassica / chemistry*
  • Cooking / methods*
  • Hot Temperature
  • Isothiocyanates / chemistry*
  • Microwaves
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry*
  • Sulfoxides


  • Isothiocyanates
  • Plant Extracts
  • Sulfoxides
  • sulforaphane