There’s one thing you can add to your dog’s diet for the greatest benefit … and that’s broccoli. But to pack a real punch, feed him broccoli sprouts! Broccoli is packed with more nutrition than most vegetables. And when you feed broccoli sprouts, the nutrients are even more concentrated. So here’s what you need to know about broccoli for dogs.
Is Broccoli Good For Dogs?
Broccoli is great for dogs. Broccoli provides fiber, calcium and vitamins C and K and even omega-3 fatty acids. But the most valuable ingredient in broccoli, and all cruciferous veggies, is sulforaphane. Broccoli is loaded with sulforaphane … an indirect antioxidant. Most antioxidants bind directly to free radicals to neutralize them … but not sulforaphane. It triggers important systems in your dog’s body to create its own antioxidants. It’s like an internal army that creates soldiers to fight the threat of free radicals that lead to inflammation and disease in your dog.
Feeding broccoli sprouts is even better (1). It gives your dog more than 10 times the amount of sulforaphane you’d get in the mature plant. Pound for pound, broccoli sprouts have more nutritional value than a mature plant. They have more vitamins, minerals, protein, digestive enzymes and antioxidants … and more sulforaphane.
13 Reasons Dogs Should Eat Broccoli
Broccoli helps support so many functions in your dog’s body. Here are some of its benefits for your dog.
1. High in Antioxidants
Antioxidants fight oxidative stress by stabilizing free radicals that lead to inflammation and disease. Broccoli is filled with vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that provides great support for the immune system. A third of a pound of broccoli has more vitamin C than 2 ½ pounds of oranges!
And broccoli is filled with sulforaphane. It activates systems in your dog’s body that can produce antioxidants (2). There’s a messenger within your dog’s cells that sends a notification when it detects cell damage from free radicals. It causes the body to produce more antioxidant enzymes to fight free radicals.
2. Fights Cancer
Several animal and human studies show that the cruciferous veggies like broccoli in the diet, the lower the cancer risk (3). The sulforaphane found in broccoli …
- Reduces inflammation
- Removes carcinogens
- Increases apoptosis (destruction of cancerous cells)
- Stops the spread of cancer
- Stunts the growth of blood tumor vessels that lead to tumor growth (4)
Sulforaphane inhibits certain enzymes responsible for DNA transcription, and causes the production of genes that suppress tumors. They slow cell division, and repair mistakes in damaged DNA and determine when cells die. This can prevent and slow growth of cancer.
3. Supports Bone Health
Broccoli is high in the flavonoid kaempferol (5), which can prevent bone loss. It’s also a good source of vitamin K, which can help strengthen your dog’s bones
4. Helps Prevent Chronic Disease
Research has shown when broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables are added to the diet, they help prevent metabolic disorders, reduce Type II diabetes, and prevent inflammation-associated respiratory disorders. Cruciferous vegetables also reduce oxidative stress and may slow cognitive decline (6).
5. Provides Detoxification
Sulforaphane activates Phase II liver detoxification, which is important in the elimination of inflammatory toxins. It also activates enzymes that are necessary to protect your dog’s cells from the DNA damage toxins can cause.
6. Reduces Inflammation
Like oxidative stress, chronic inflammation is a major cause of aging, degeneration, mutations and these diseases …
Sulforaphane and vitamin C are anti-inflammatory compounds in broccoli that have the ability to reduce inflammation. Sulforaphane (4) has the best ability of all nutrients to activate the Nrf2 pathway to reduce inflammation in your dog (7). The Nrf2 pathway lowers inflammation by regulating hundreds of different genes and activating antioxidant genes. It deactivates carcinogens and helps the body eliminate them.
7. Supports Brain Health
Sulforaphane is also one of the few nutrients that can cross the blood-brain barrier to protect the brain (8). This means it can increase antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions in the brain. Studies show sulforaphane might help prevent Alzheimer’s and other brain disorders.
Sulforaphane also shows promise as a potential treatment for traumatic brain injuries. In one study (9), rats received sulforaphane an hour after brain injury. They showed improved test performance compared to the control group.
8. Balances The Microbiome
Your dog’s digestive tract is home to his microbiome that holds trillions of bacteria … good and bad. Prebiotics from the fiber in broccoli feed the good bacteria that produce short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) that are an important part of your dog’s immune system. This is what they do …
- Slow the growth of harmful bacteria
- Send energy to colon cells
- Balance fluids and electrolytes
- Boost the immune system
- Reduce food allergies
- Aid nutrient absorption
- Reduce inflammation
9. Helps Manage Leaky Gut
Leaky gut is a serious epidemic among dogs. A single layer of cells in your dog’s intestines allows nutrients to pass into your dog’s bloodstream. But when it’s damaged, spaces in the lining get wider, allowing allergens, toxins, bacteria and yeast to leak from your dog’s gut into his bloodstream. This can lead to chronic inflammation and disease throughout your dog’s entire body. Feeding your dog broccoli can lower inflammation and maintain a healthy gut lining.
10. Fights Anxiety And Depression
When your dog’s stressed or anxious, his body releases stress hormones that use up important resources like zinc, vitamin C and B vitamins. So your dog might need a nutritional boost … and broccoli provides a good assortment of those nutrients.
Inflammation is one cause of depression (10). Sulforaphane can also relieve anxiety and depression. It reduces inflammation to help manage behavioral changes (11). Sulforaphane also acted as an antidepressant in mice to reduce anxious responses (12).
11. Strengthens Heart Health
Studies show that sulforaphane may help maintain arterial function and prevent heart disease (13). This is because of sulforaphane’s ability to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation.
12. Reduces Seizures
Research shows sulforaphane acts as an anticonvulsant to reduce and prevent seizures (14).
13. Can Help Diabetes
A 2017 Swedish-US study showed that sulforaphane can reduce fasting blood sugar in type 2 diabetics (15). It can also improve how the body processes sugar (16). If your dog takes insulin or other diabetes medication, be sure to speak with your vet before changing your dog’s diet.
How To Feed Your Dog Broccoli
Start slowly by just feeding a little broccoli at a time. Start with 1 tsp for small dogs and 1 Tbsp for larger dogs. Make sure there’s no digestive upset before increasing the amount. It should be chopped or blended or lightly steamed as explained below.
If you’re feeding sprouts, just add a pinch of raw broccoli sprouts to a small dog’s dinner and as much as a half-cup to meals for large dogs.
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Boost The Benefits Of Broccoli For Dogs
Here are a few things to keep in mind when feeding broccoli to your dog.
- First of all, you want to buy organic broccoli to avoid herbicides and other chemicals.
- Sulforaphane in broccoli is an isothiocyanate that can cause gastric upset in dogs. Use moderation and keep an eye on your dog.
- Don’t cook broccoli sprouts. Raw sprouts are much higher in sulforaphane than the cooked ones (17)
- Mature broccoli needs to release the enzyme myrosinase as part of the digestive process. It breaks down glucoraphanin to create sulforaphane. The easiest way to do that is to mulch or blend broccoli before feeding it to your dog. You can also lightly steam it but broccoli has far more sulforaphane when it’s raw (18).
- Vegetables shouldn’t be more than 10% of your dog’s diet. Too much takes away from other nutrients, plus it can also cause loose stools.
Don’t let another day go by without feeding broccoli to your dog. For an even bigger health boost, buy broccoli sprouts too. As well as supporting his present health, it goes a long way toward preventing future chronic diseases.
- Fahey JW, et al. Broccoli sprouts: an exceptionally rich source of inducers of enzymes that protect against chemical carcinogens. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1997 Sep 16;94(19):10367-72.
- Su X, et al. Anticancer Activity of Sulforaphane: The Epigenetic Mechanisms and the Nrf2 Signaling Pathway. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2018 Jun 6;2018:5438179.
- Murillo G, Mehta RG. Cruciferous vegetables and cancer prevention. Nutr Cancer. 2001;41(1-2):17-28.
- Rajendran, Praveen, et al. Nrf2 status affects tumor growth, HDAC3 gene promoter associations, and the response to sulforaphane in the colon. Clinical Epigenetics. Volume 7, Article number: 102 (2015)
- Pan, Min-Hsiung, et al. Anti-inflammatory activity of natural dietary flavonoids. Food Funct., 2010, 1, 15-31.
- Shivapriya Manchali, et al. Crucial facts about health benefits of popular cruciferous vegetables. Journal of Functional Foods. Volume 4, Issue 1, 2012. Pages 94-106.
- L, Martin, et al. Nrf2 Regulator Of Detoxication, Antioxidant, Antiinflammatory And Cytoprotection Is Raised By Health Promoting Factors. Biochemistry and Basic Science. Wash State Univ. 2015.
- Kim J, et al. Sulforaphane epigenetically enhances neuronal BDNF expression and TrkB signaling pathways. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2017 Feb;61(2).
- Dash PK, et al. Sulforaphane improves cognitive function administered following traumatic brain injury. Neurosci Lett. 2009 Aug 28;460(2):103-7.
- Lee CH, Giuliani F. The Role of Inflammation in Depression and Fatigue. Front Immunol. 2019 Jul 19;10:1696.
- Zhang JC, et al. Prophylactic effects of sulforaphane on depression-like behavior and dendritic changes in mice after inflammation. J Nutr Biochem. 2017 Jan;39:134-144.
- Wu S, et al. Sulforaphane produces antidepressant- and anxiolytic-like effects in adult mice. Behav Brain Res. 2016 Mar 15;301:55-62.
- Bai Y, et al. Sulforaphane Protects against Cardiovascular Disease via Nrf2 Activation. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2015;2015:407580.
- Carrasco-Pozo C, et al. Sulforaphane is anticonvulsant and improves mitochondrial function. J Neurochem. 2015 Dec;135(5):932-42.
- Axelsson AS, et al. Sulforaphane reduces hepatic glucose production and improves glucose control in patients with type 2 diabetes. Sci Transl Med. 2017 Jun 14;9(394):
- Xu Y et al. Sulforaphane ameliorates glucose intolerance in obese mice via the upregulation of the insulin signaling pathway. Food Funct. 2018 Sep 19;9(9):4695-4701.
- Lijiang Song, Paul J. Thornalley, Effect of storage, processing and cooking on glucosinolate content of Brassica vegetables, Food and Chemical Toxicology, Volume 45, Issue 2, 2007, Pages 216-224,
- Vermeulen M, et al. Bioavailability and kinetics of sulforaphane in humans after consumption of cooked versus raw broccoli. J Agric Food Chem. 2008 Nov 26;56(22):10505-9.