Crucifers and related vegetables and supplements for neurologic disorders: what is the evidence?

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Neurologic disorders have varied pathophysiology, yet many of them appear to have core molecular pathways that are aberrant. We review the evidence that a dietary component may have utility in ameliorating or preventing at least some of them.

Recent findings

The weight of evidence supporting prescriptive dietary recommendations to promote or enhance healthspan has been building for decades. Cruciferous vegetables are a key part of the arsenal of nutrition-based approaches for reducing the burden of chronic disease. Much new evidence suggests that neurological disorders are among the potential targets for this approach. This evidence includes at least nine clinical studies of neurodevelopmental conditions like autism spectrum disorder and schizophrenia, and there are a great many studies in animal model systems, of neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. This review highlights the most bioactive and most well-studied compounds from crucifers – the isothiocyanates, in particular sulforaphane.

Summary

There is great promise for the regular use of cruciferous vegetables or supplements containing standardized levels of bioactives in the treatment and prevention of neurologic disorders. Many clinical and animal studies are underway, and the evidence is building to support this strategy.

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