phytochemicals Phytochemicals
 
 

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Isothiocyanates

Isothiocyanates

Formula: R-NCS

What is Isothiocyanates?

Isothiocyanates are sulphur-containing phytochemicals with the general formula R-NCS. Different molecules belong to this group. Isothiocyanates with the stongest anticancer effects are phenylethylisothiocyanate, benzylisothiocyanate and 3-phenylpropylisothiocyanate. Isothiocyanates occur naturally as glucosinolate conjugates in cruciferous vegetables. Isothiocyanates are also responsible for the typical flavour of these vegetables.

Distribution

Isothiocyanates can be found in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, turnips, collards, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, radish, turnip and watercress. Glucosinolates are precursors of isothiocyanates. When the raw vegetables are chewed the plant cells are broken and an enzyme (myrosinase) hydrolyses the glucosinolates into isothiocyanates.

Health Benefits of Isothiocyanates

Isothiocyanates combat carcinogens by neutralizing them, reducing their poisonous effect and stimulating the secretion of carcinogens of carcinogens. Isothiocyanates act by inhibition of cell proliferation and induction of apoptosis.

The isothiocyanates with the stongest anticancer effects are phenylethylisothiocyanate, benzylisothiocyanate and 3-phenylpropylisothiocyanate. Studies have shown that isothiocyanates help to prevent lung cancer and esophageal cancer. Isothiocyanates can also lower the risk of other cancers, including gastrointestinal cancer.

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore studied the metabolism of isothiocyanates and found that isothiocyanates were about six times more bioavailable than glucosinolates.



 
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