You have probably heard thousands of times that green vegetables are super healthy. But, it turns out broccoli might be the healthiest option for people with type 2 diabetes.
According to researchers, doctors might even start prescribing this vegetable, since a powder containing concentrated extract from broccoli might be absolutely necessary to people with this type of diabetes.
A study showed the broccoli extract lowered blood glucose levels by nearly 10% in people with the disease.
The body of a person with type 2 diabetes can’t respond to insulin, which is necessary for blood glucose control. So, improper regulation of insulin raises the blood sugar, leading to many health complications, like vision loss, heart attacks, and kidney disease.
Elizabeth Robertson, a scientist of the Diabetes UK charity, says the repurposed drug needs more research before being used in the treatment of type 2 diabetes. That’s because it was tested on a small group of people, out of whom only a certain number experienced beneficial effects.
Therefore, she recommends continuing with the prescribed treatment, at least for now.
Past research showed that sulforaphane – a compound in broccoli sprouts, helps lower blood sugar levels in rats with diabetes. A team of researchers from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden tested the same thing on humans.
They gave a daily concentrated dose of the compound to patients with type 2 diabetes for 3 months. They also gave a placebo to another group of type 2 diabetes patients. All 97 participants continued taking metformin, except for three.
As it turned out, the three patients could control their diabetes well without the drug.
The first author of the study, Anders Rosengren, says they gave the participants a sulforaphane concentration that’s a hundred times more than the one found in broccoli. In other words, it’s like eating around 5kg of broccoli a day.
On average, the blood sugar levels in the participants who took broccoli extract were reduced by 10% more than those from the placebo group. Also, the obese participants with poor diabetes management had better results than their counterparts. They started the experiment with higher baseline sugar levels.
Researchers share the excitement about the results. They are eager to bring the broccoli extract to patients. In fact, a 10% reduction in blood sugar levels is enough to reduce health complications related to kidneys, eyes, and blood.
Other analysis discovered that sulforaphane and metformin reduce blood sugar levels in different ways. The first one suppresses liver enzymes which stimulate the secretion of glucose, thus reducing glucose.
On the other hand, metformin increases cells’ sensitivity to insulin, making them sponge more extra glucose from the blood.
That’s why the lead author of the study believes the broccoli extract is not competitive with metformin, but rather complementary. But, since a lot of diabetes patients can’t take the drug due to increased risk of diabetes complications, they could take the broccoli extract as a perfect substitute.
The researchers apply to regulatory authorities to seek approval for the broccoli extract which might take around 2 years. Also, they plan to research the potential benefits of the powder in prediabetes people who still don’t take metformin.