We all know that eating broccoli is good for us. And sprouted broccoli seeds have long been shown to contain anti-cancer and heart-healthy phytochemicals.
Recently, researchers discovered additional benefits that could help in managing type 2 diabetes by controlling blood sugar levels.
Keep it green
In a neat piece of detective work, an international team of researchers created a “genetic signature” for type 2 diabetes, based on 50 genes that have previously been linked to the disorder. They then fed the results into a database of more than 3,800 compounds, which used the genetic signature to look for those specifically linked to gene expression in liver cells. The compound sulphoraphane looked the most promising.
Sulphoraphane is naturally present in vegetables of the cabbage family – it’s what gives them their characteristic, slightly bitter taste.
The results of this study showed that sulphoraphane switched off glucose production in liver cells taken from diabetic rats. And when they tried it with live rats, they saw that sulphoraphane was as effective as the diabetes drug metformin in correcting glucose metabolism.
The next step was a human clinical trial. Since sulphoraphane is most concentrated in sprouted broccoli seeds, they gave 97 obese patients with poorly-controlled type 2 diabetes a concentrated broccoli sprout extract, for 12 weeks. The result was significantly reduced fasting blood glucose and glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) levels. And the broccoli sprout extract was well-tolerated, with minimal side effects.
Sulphoraphane could also benefit people with diabetes or metabolic syndrome by helping to prevent heart disease. Its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties help combat the build-up of plaque in the arteries and it triggers genes that produce more than a hundred natural protective compounds in the body.
In other research, sulphoraphane has shown benefits for the treatment of osteoarthritis, certain cancers, respiratory illnesses, and skin and blood disorders. This natural plant chemical is available in supplement form, or you could try sprouting broccoli seeds yourself at home for a tasty addition to your salads.
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Disclaimer: Bear in mind the material contained in this article is provided for information purposes only. We are not addressing anyone’s personal situation. Please consult with your own physician before acting on any recommendations contained herein.
National Obesity Forum in association with the Public Health Collaboration. Eat Fat, Cut The Carbs and Avoid Snacking To Reverse Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes (PDF, 338kb). May 2016.