A broccoli based spin-out

From collecting wild Brassicas in the 1980s, it has taken many years of conventional plant breeding, field trials and human studies into potential health benefits to deliver high glucoraphanin broccoli varieties to the public.

The Smarter Food Company is the resulting spin-out from the Quadram Institute Bioscience. The company was formed with support from technology transfer specialists, PBL (Plant Bioscience Ltd).

Broccoli has long been considered a ‘superfood’, with a body of scientific studies finding that eating lots of cruciferous vegetables, and broccoli in particular, may help reduce the risk of various health conditions, such as type-2 diabetes, cancer, high cholesterol, heart disease and even some neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s. A key part of broccoli’s health-boosting effects is a naturally occurring compound called glucoraphanin.

When we eat broccoli, the glucoraphanin inside it is converted in our gut into its active form, called sulforaphane. Rather than acting directly on any one aspect of our health, sulforaphane helps improve the way our cells work at a very fundamental level, which in turn brings a wide range of benefits to many different aspects of our health.


A vertical timeline running from 1984 to 2022 showing key steps in the development of high glucoraphanin broccoli

Download the broccoli based spin-out timeline


Smarter Food is expected to launch a product in the USA and double in size in the next 12 months.

Case studies discussing observed improvements for diabetes patients are available on https://smarternaturally.com.

In the UK, the NHS spends around £10 billion a year on diabetes. Any product that can help prevent the on-set of diabetes of other age-related conditions such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases or neurodegenerative conditions could make a significant impact to society and the economy.

[i] Armah, C. N., Traka, M.H., Dainty, J.R., Defernez, M., Astrid Janssens, Leung, W., Doleman,  J., Potter, J.F., and Mithen, R.F.  A diet rich in high glucoraphanin broccoli interacts with genotype to reduce discordance in plasma metabolite profiles through modulating mitochondrial disfunction, Am J Clin Nutr 2013 98: 712-722. https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.113.065235.
[ii] Armah, C.N. et al A diet rich in high glucoraphanin broccoli reduces plasma LDL cholesterol: evidence from randomised controlled trials”, Molecular Nutrition and Food Research. https://doi.org/10.1002/mnfr.201400863.
(iii) Traka MH, Melchini A, Coode-Bate J, Al Kadhi O, Saha S, Defernez M, Troncoso-Rey P, Kibblewhite H, O’Neill CM, Bernuzzi F, Mythen L, Hughes J, Needs PW, Dainty JR, Savva GM, Mills RD, Ball RY, Cooper CS, Mithen RF. Transcriptional changes in prostate of men on active surveillance after a 12-mo glucoraphanin-rich broccoli intervention-results from the Effect of Sulforaphane on prostate CAncer PrEvention (ESCAPE) randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2019 Apr 1;109(4):1133-1144. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/nqz012. [iv) Livingstone, T.L.; Saha, S.; Bernuzzi, F.; Savva, G.M.; Troncoso-Rey, P.; Traka, M.H.; Mills, R.D.; Ball, R.Y.; Mithen, R.F. Accumulation of Sulforaphane and Alliin in Human Prostate Tissue. Nutrients 2022, 14, 3263. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14163263.

The research cited was supported by the Technology Strategy Board, UKRI Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and by the Prostate Cancer Foundation.

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