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Glucosinolates are glucosidic compounds that contain sulfur typically biosynthesized by some plants such as: Brassicaceae, Capparidaceae, Euphorbiaceae, etc.
Glucosinolates are known for their health-promoting properties and their role in plant defense against pests and diseases.
The enzymatic decomposition of these compounds gives rise to a complex mixture of compounds including isothiocyanates and their derivatives; To date, over 100 different molecules are known.
From a biochemical point of view, glucosinolates are thioglycolate glycosides, i.e. molecules that contain a sugar (glucose) linked to a thioglycosidic group (containing sulphur) and a variable group that determines the specific type of glucosinolate. The general structure of glucosinolates can be represented as follows:
One group β-D-glucopyranose (sugar)
A sulfate group (–SO₃⁻) attached to a side chain (R), which can vary greatly between different glucosinolates.
– Function in Plants
In plants, glucosinolates perform a defensive function. When plant tissue is damaged (for example, by an insect), the glucosinolates are hydrolyzed by an enzyme called myrosinase, which is colocalized in the cells but separated from the glucosinolates themselves. This chemical reaction leads to the formation of various degradation products, such as isothiocyanates, thiocyanates and nitriles, which have deterrent and toxic properties for many pathogens and parasites.
– Benefits for Human Health
Glucosinolates and their degradation products (especially isothiocyanates) have been studied for their potential beneficial effects on human health. Between these:
Anti-cancer properties: Numerous studies suggest that glucosinolates may reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, particularly those of the gastrointestinal tract and lung. Glucosinolate-derived isothiocyanates can influence carcinogenesis through modulation of detoxification enzymes and induction of apoptosis (programmed cell death) in tumor cells.
Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties: Isothiocyanates have also shown anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities, which may contribute to the prevention of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease.
Improved digestive health: Some studies suggest that glucosinolates may have beneficial effects on the health of the intestinal microbiota and may contribute to the prevention of gastrointestinal diseases.
– Food sources
Glucosinolates are present in many common vegetables. Here are some particularly rich sources:
Brussels sprouts
Black cabbage
Savoy cabbage
Consuming these vegetables raw or lightly cooked is the best way to benefit from glucosinolates, as extended cooking can reduce the content of these compounds.

Warning: The information provided is not medical advice and may not be accurate. The contents are for illustrative purposes only and do not replace medical advice.

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