Chemical in Broccoli Could Prevent Coronaviruses Infections

Broccoli is rich in SFN, protects against coronaviruses

Ask for extra broccoli in your salad.

In a recent Communications Biology study, researchers from John Hopkins University discuss the use of the isothiocyanate sulforaphane (SFN), a glucoraphanin found in cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, and kale, and at high levels in broccoli especially in broccoli sprouts, for the treatment of both SARS-CoV-2 and seasonal human coronavirus (HCoV)-OC43 infections.

“We observed that SFN has dual antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties against coronaviruses,” researchers write, “We determined that SFN has potent antiviral activity against HCoV-OC43 and multiple strains of SARS-CoV-2, including Delta and Omicron, with limited toxicity in cell culture. The similar results observed between the coronaviruses evaluated suggest that SFN could have broad activity against coronaviruses, a feature that may prove invaluable as new strains of pathogenic coronaviruses enter the human population.”

In the study, cells were incubated with SFN for one to two hours before they were inoculated with COVID-19 and the seasonal human coronavirus. In both cases, SFN was found to effectively inhibit virus-associated cell death in a dose-dependent manner. The same assay was performed in human diploid fibroblast cell and delivered even better results.

Then researchers checked the ability of SFN to affect an already established infection. Again, SFN was found to effectively inhibit both coronaviruses. The inhibitory effect of the SFN was similar when added before or during infection.

“Consumption of SFN-rich broccoli sprouts (single oral daily dose equivalent to 200 µmol of SFN) results in a peak plasma concentration and higher steady-state levels could be achieved by administering the same dose in two divided doses,” researches conclude. “Thus, while our results are promising, additional studies in humans are needed to determine the efficacy of SFN as a therapy for COVID-19.”