Why Type 2 Diabetics Should Consider Adding Broccoli To Their Diet

They say an apple a day will keep the doctor away, but what about broccoli? For those living with type 2 diabetes, a specific compound found in broccoli may be helpful in managing the disease.

In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas doesn't produce enough insulin, which is the hormone responsible for letting blood sugar into the cells, according to the Mayo Clinic. The cells also don't respond to insulin properly, causing an excess of sugar to circulate in the bloodstream, rather than being used for fuel inside cells. These high levels of blood sugar can eventually lead to serious issues with the circulatory, nervous, and immune systems. Symptoms include increased thirst and hunger, frequent urination, blurred vision, fatigue, numbness and tingling in the hands and feet, and unintended weight loss.

Type 2 diabetes can usually be managed with lifestyle changes, according to MedicalNewsToday. A 2020 study published in Nutrients found that healthy lifestyle practices may not only prevent type 2 diabetes, but can also treat it effectively. To control blood sugar levels without medication, it's recommended to get regular exercise, stop smoking, and manage stress. You should avoid sugary foods and drinks, processed and fatty meats, salty foods, and saturated fat, and focus on a diet rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean meat, non-fried fish, legumes, and low-fat dairy products.

How broccoli can help manage blood sugar levels

According to a 2017 study published in Science Translational Medicine, you might want to prioritize broccoli on that list (via The Healthy). Researchers found that an antioxidant compound called sulforaphane in broccoli helped lower fasting glucose levels in participants. The study was first conducted on rats, finding that sulforaphane reduced glucose production in their liver cells, lowered fasting blood sugar, and reversed the disease signature in their liver. It was so effective that researchers compared it to metformin, a prescription diabetes medication. This was significant, since metformin often causes gastric side effects that many people can't tolerate, and it also can't be used by people with compromised kidney function, which many diabetics have.

Researchers then gave the concentrated extract to 97 human subjects with type 2 diabetes for 12 weeks. The participants, who had unregulated diabetes and were classified as obese, showed significantly decreased blood sugar levels compared to a control group. It was suggested that supplementing medication with this compound could be valuable to those with type 2 diabetes.