If you’re among the 29 million Americans who have diabetes and are striving to be healthy, you should definitely be loading up on your veggies, specifically broccoli, according to a recent study published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
In the study, researchers from Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, and the Faculty of Medicine at Lund University in Sweden found that extracts of broccoli—specifically an antioxidant compound called sulforaphane—is beneficial for people who have Type 2 diabetes. Besides being a great source of vitamin C and K, folic acid, potassium, and fiber, broccoli may help people with diabetes manage blood sugar.
The first phase of the experiment involved animals. When researchers initially gave a sulforaphane extract to rats with diabetes, it reduced glucose production in their liver cells, lowering fasting blood glucose and glycated hemoglobin and reversing the disease signature in their liver. It also cut “exaggerated glucose production and glucose intolerance by a magnitude similar to that of metformin,” a prescription diabetes medication, according to study coauthor Annika Axelsson of Lund University. This finding is especially significant because metformin is known to cause gastric side effects that can make it intolerable for some people, and it also can’t be used when kidney function is severely compromised, which it often is in people with diabetes.
“There are strong indications that this can become a valuable supplement to existing medication,” Anders Rosengren, Docent in Metabolic Physiology at the University of Gothenburg and affiliated with the Lund University Diabetes Centre, said in a press release.
After those encouraging results, researchers then gave the concentrated broccoli extract to 97 people who had Type 2 diabetes for 12 weeks, and compared their results to participants with diabetes who got a placebo. Obese participants with unregulated diabetes who took the sulforaphane extract showed significantly decreased fasting blood glucose levels compared to the controls.
In the meantime, add some broccoli a day to help keep diabetes (and diabetes complications) at day.