Veggies that Build Muscle

Veggies that Build Muscle

Recent research has uncovered that certain veggies can deactivate myostatin, a protein that inhibits muscle growth.

Huge Vegetarians

Many gym goers, or gains enthusiasts would imagine the physique of a vegetarian to lie somewhere between your common desk ruler and Christian Bale in the Machinist. This image might not be tabu for long though, as a recent German study has revealed that vegetables from brassica family have a chemical called glucoraphanin that when ingested turns into sulforaphane that deactivates muscle growth inhibitors in your body. Essentially meaning that vegetarian bodybuilders have been using this secret weapon for years that allows them to grow muscle as easy, or even easier, than meat eaters.

The Brassica Secret

Glucoraphanin is a chemical found in broccoli, cauliflower and the young sprouts (microgreens) of these two vegetables. When humans eat and digest these vegetables, the glucoraphanin is converted to a substance named sulforaphane, which has long been known to have anti-cancer and anti-microbial properties. These are great benefits in their own right. However, when scientists in Germany exposed pig satellite cells (which are very similar to human satellite cells) to sulforaphane, the cells developed into adult muscle cells.

This discovery has huge medical and economic potential, as the researchers themselves noted: If its effects are verified and applied to in vivo models, sulforaphane may have therapeutic benefits in the treatment of human skeletal muscle disorders and practical value in meat production.

Give Me Some Broccoli, Red Cabbage and Cauliflower.

Vegetarians who eat a lot of broccoli and cauliflower, are presumably, already taking advantage of the myostatin-inhibiting effects of sulforaphane. Meat-eaters can get on board too; by simply having daily servings of these vegetables, at least until sulforaphane is maybe some day available in supplement form. Other research also suggests that you should eat cooked versions of these vegetables (as opposed to raw), as cooking makes the nutrients and compounds more bioavailable.


Fan H, Zhang R, Tesfaye D, Tholen E, Looft C, Hölker M, Schellander K, Cinar MU.
"Sulforaphane causes a major epigenetic repression of myostatin in porcine satellite cells."
Epigenetics. 2012 Dec 1;7(12):1379-90.

By Xavier Wills

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