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A compound present in broccoli sprouts may help you sleep better at night, a new study shows. People who consumed glucoraphanin – a bioactive compound found in broccoli sprouts that is a precursor to sulforaphane – slept better and had lower inflammatory markers than those who didn’t take the compound.

Researchers conducted a small, randomized, placebo-controlled trial involving 18 healthy adults. Twelve of the participants took 30 milligrams of glucoraphanin daily for four weeks while the remaining six took a placebo. The participants wore sleep monitors and reported their sleep quality. The researchers measured the participants' melatonin and inflammatory markers.

They found that the participants who took the glucoraphanin experienced better sleep quality than those who took the placebo. They also had higher blood concentrations of melatonin and lower levels of prostaglandin D2, a pro-inflammatory mediator.

Melatonin is a hormone produced deep within the brain, in the pineal gland. It is a key player in the body’s circadian metabolic processes and serves as the body’s natural sleep inducer. Melatonin production may be impaired in a pro-inflammatory state, and increased oxidative stress and inflammation may reduce sleep quality.

Glucoraphanin is found in certain cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli (especially broccoli sprouts) and red kale. Glucoraphanin is hydrolyzed by the enzyme myrosinase to produce sulforaphane, which demonstrates many beneficial effects in humans. Learn more about the health effects of sulforaphane in this live Q&A featuring Dr. Jed Fahey.

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