Broccoli could help diabetics to control blood sugar

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body isn’t able to make enough insulin or to use the hormone to regulate blood glucose levels. This causes a build-up of sugar in the blood and for obese patients, their excess body fat makes it harder for the liver and muscle tissue to absorb this excess blood glucose. At present, type 2 diabetes affects more than 300 million people worldwide and makes up 90 percent of all diabetes cases.

Recent research from the University of Gothenburg (UG) suggests that sulforaphane, a powerhouse antioxidant found in the vegetable, could be Nature’s secret weapon against type 2 diabetes, offering patients a way to slash their blood glucose levels and fight the disease. Found in cruciferous greens such as broccoli and cabbage, sulforaphane is known for its cancer-fighting and anti-inflammation properties. However hardly anything was known about its effect on type 2 diabetes until now.

In an effort searching for active compounds against diabetes, the UG researchers screened 2,800 substances and one stood out: sulforaphane. When tested in rodents with dietary-induced diabetes, the researchers found that the blood sugar dropped by 23 percent in four weeks when the animals were given sulforaphane enriched plant extract.

Encouraged by the results, the researchers then tested the compound on people. The 12-week randomized placebo-controlled study involved 97 type 2 diabetes patients who were given a powdered broccoli sprout extract containing 100 times the amount of sulforaphane found naturally in broccoli. The researchers reported that sulforaphane had the greatest impact on obese participants with dysregulated diabetes, whose glucose levels decreased significantly while fasting. Mechanistically, the researchers reported noted that sulforaphane finds the diabetes by stoping the liver enzymes from over-producing glucose.

The bottom-line? Diabetic or not, brocholli is good for you. So load it up whenever you can.

Journal Reference: Axelsson, A.S. et. al. Sulforaphane reduces hepatic glucose production and improves glucose control in patients with type 2 diabetes, Science Translational Medicine 14 Jun 2017: 9(394); 4477

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