If you care about your skin’s health, you problem know about the main antioxidants that keep skin healthy and glowing. There’s vitamin C (famous for evening skin tone and promoting collagen production), vitamin E (known for strengthening the skin barrier), vitamin A (aka, retinol), and a host of other active ingredients that make up the robust skin care alphabet.
But there’s a lesser known antioxidant you might not have on your radar: sulforaphane glucosinolate (SGS, or commonly referred to simply as sulforaphane). Quite a mouthful, but scientists agree this antioxidant is quickly becoming the next juggernaut of skin care. Here’s what you need to know about this sought-after ingredient.
Picture a plate of cruciferous veggies (that’s broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts, to name a few): This family of vegetables contains sulfur-containing compounds, called glucosinolates. As we digest, our body breaks down the glucosinolates and produces many compounds, one of which is called sulforaphane. By now, you might be familiar with how antioxidants work (if you aren’t, allow MindBodyGreen to inform you all about antioxidants). At the most basic level, they directly stabilize free radicals by donating an electron, or break down the free radicals and render them harmless.
That’s the case for most antioxidants, but what sulforaphane does is it activates the protein Nfr2, which in turn activates certain antioxidant genes in your body. In other words, SGS doesn’t just stabilize free radicals the same way consuming vitamin C might—it activates the body’s natural detoxification and antioxidant enzymes. Essentially, sulforaphane can support your skin in the same way it does your body’s detoxification processes, flushing all the harmful players out.
In studies, sulforaphane has also been shown to reverse photoaging by protecting against UV-induced skin damage. According to a study on sulforaphane’s protective effects, using broccoli sprout extract for three days in a row prior to UV exposure helped manage skin cell damage. What’s more, sulforaphane can provide healthy aging benefits; according to that same study, sulforaphane also helped maintain inflammation.
There are many ways supplements that can help you get enough sulforaphane to reap this skin-boosting benefits, but the best way to get it is straight from healthy vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage. Bon appétit!