Broccoli is one of the healthiest vegetables, and recently a group of Swedish scientists discovered a potential new health benefit. Their research showed that a concentrated broccoli extract was effective in lowering blood sugar levels in diabetics.
The researchers, from the University of Gothenburg, knew previous research suggested a component in broccoli was helpful in diabetics. They wanted to isolate a natural extract from this vegetable, that would be effective, yet safer, than the standard oral medication for diabetics, metformin. About 15% of people cannot take metformin because of the risks of kidney side effects.
Led by medical researcher Anders Rosengren, the Swedish team first performed experiments in cell cultures. They identified the compound sulphoraphane as the substance in broccoli that might be effective. Then they tested sulphoraphane in diabetic rats, and found that it lowered blood sugar levels as well as the standard medication metformin.
In the third stage of their study, they recruited 97 diabetic adults, most who were already taking metformin. One half of the group took a concentrated broccoli extract daily, and the other half took a placebo. The results showed this extract worked well to lower blood sugar—lowering the levels by an additional 10% more than metformin alone. It worked best in the more obese diabetics otherwise not well controlled, some of the hardest patients to treat. There were no significant side effects from the broccoli extract.
The amount of broccoli
The only problem is that the amount of sulphoraphane that the subjects in the study received daily was the amount in 4 to 5 kilograms of broccoli. However, the Swedish Farmer’s Association is working diligently with the researchers, and are confident that, within 2 years, they will have a commercially available broccoli extract, with concentrated sulphoraphane, that will be effective and safe for diabetics.
Broccoli is otherwise healthy
It is full of antioxidants such as beta carotene, lutein and zanxanthin, which help prevent macular degeneration in the eyes. It is full of vitamins, especially K and C, as well as folate and necessary minerals such as chromium and manganese, and is a great source of fiber. There is evidence that the overall nutritional benefits from this vegetable can lower the risk of various cancers, especially of the prostate, colon, breast, bladder, and ovaries. As a bonus, broccoli seems to lower LDL (“bad”) levels, which benefits your cardiovascular system.
Choosing and cooking broccoli
Look for the most uniform and darkest green heads and leaves, as they have the highest antioxidant content. Store it in the refrigerator in a sealed bag with minimum air to avoid degrading the nutrition, and don’t cut it until you are ready to cook it. The method found to best preserve the nutrition is to steam it in a little water for four minutes. and consume the liquid as well!
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