Broccoli tends to be one of those polarizing vegetables. Like spinach and mushrooms, people tend to either love or hate it with no in-between. Regardless of how you feel about its taste, however, you might want to start eating more of it if you have type 2 diabetes. That’s because recent research has discovered that eating broccoli or even drinking its juice could help people suffering from the condition.
The news comes at a time when diabetes rates are skyrocketing, affecting nearly 10 percent of Americans. More than 300 million people around the world are currently suffering from type 2 diabetes, which can lead to stroke, kidney failure, blindness, heart attack, and even limb amputation.
Its treatment is no walk in the park, either. The common diabetes drug metformin causes side effects like bloating, diarrhea and stomach pain, and it cannot be taken by those with poor kidney function, which also happens to be one of the most common complications those with type 2 diabetes face. Just under a third of those who take the drug will suffer from bloating, nausea and abdominal pain.
Thankfully, this risky drug could soon be replaced by a functional food like broccoli sprout extract. Researchers believe it could prove particularly useful for those with pre-diabetes, which means they have a blood sugar level that is higher than usual but not quite in the type 2 diabetes range.
Broccoli sprout extract lowered fasting blood glucose
In a randomized and placebo-controlled study that was published in Science Translational Medicine, a complex in broccoli known as sulforaphane was found to be beneficial to obese patients with poorly regulated type 2 diabetes. The researchers looked at 97 obese patients over the course of 12 weeks. The subjects who were given concentrated broccoli sprout noted a significant drop in fasting blood glucose levels compared to those who were given a placebo.
In fact, the researchers found that sulforaphane could prevent the development of glucose intolerance in addition to lowering blood glucose levels just as much as metformin. They saw a drop in glucose of around 10 percent, which is enough to decrease complications in the kidneys, blood and eyes, and the compound did not lead to any gastrointestinal problems like metformin, nor did it have any other side effects.
It is important to note, however, that the patients in the study took the equivalent of eating 11 pounds of broccoli per day, so future treatments would likely entail a concentrated form of it. However, organic broccoli is one of the healthiest foods out there and increasing your intake could have other benefits to your health as well.
Professor Anders Rosengren of the University of Gothenburg and Lund University Diabetes Center, the study’s lead author, said that broccoli could prove incredibly useful given its absence of side effects and how easy it is to create a drink or shake with it. Sulforaphane is also found in other cruciferous vegetables like brussels sprouts and cabbage, which opens up a world of possibilities for diabetes treatment.
Lifestyle changes remain vital tool in diabetes fight
Dr. Rosengren told the Daily Mail that the most important therapy for those with type 2 diabetes remains lifestyle changes like eating healthy and participating in plenty of physical activity. Countless people have reversed type 2 diabetes by cutting out refined sugars and processed foods, exercising, getting regular sunshine, and eating superfoods.
With the CDC predicting that at least one out of every three people will develop diabetes in their lifetime, safe treatments for this condition are becoming increasingly urgent. It is incredibly positive to see researchers finding natural ways to help alleviate the problem.