Broccoli… everyone’s favorite vegetable, right? Who knew that when your parents forced you to eat it, they were doing you a favor!
This cruciferous veggie has many healthy properties, one of which has been found to lower blood sugar directly. In recent lab research, the chemical sulforaphane has been shown to lower glucose levels. It does this by suppressing the enzymes in the liver that stimulate glucose production.
Glucose levels were reduced by an average of 10%. Participants who had higher baseline blood sugar saw the most benefit. Keep in mind, however, that the dose was around 5 kilograms (over 10 pounds) of broccoli a day!
While its health benefits are numerous, 10 pounds (that’s over 20 cups) of broccoli a day is a lot of broccoli! Plus, because the study was performed on a limited number of participants, larger and more detailed studies are required before broccoli is deemed a diabetes treatment.
The good news is, the additional health benefits of broccoli are available in much more reasonable portions. Broccoli is an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, lutein, folic acid, and calcium.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant. It is an immune booster and promotes wound healing. Vitamin C also lowers levels of sorbitol, (a form of sugar that can build up in the body and damage cells in your nerves, eyes, and kidneys.) One study also showed that Vitamin C is rapidly lost in the bodies of those with diabetes.
This means diabetics need more Vitamin C than the average person in order to reap the benefits. Everyone knows that oranges contain Vitamin C, but strawberries, kiwi, bell pepper, even chili peppers are all great sources of Vitamin C, too.
Vitamin E improves glucose control and helps to protect blood vessels and nerves from free-radical damage. Some studies have also shown that high doses of vitamin E may even reverse diabetic nerve damage, along with reducing risk for diabetes related cataracts and arteriosclerosis. Vitamin E can be found in nuts, nut butters, and oils like olive and sunflower.
Calcium doesn’t only help build strong bones; research shows it may also help control high blood pressure, and help prevent colon cancer. While the amount of calcium in broccoli is less than the calcium in a glass of milk, broccoli is especially good for individuals who don’t consume dairy products. On a similar note, one cup of broccoli also contains nearly 3 grams of protein so it’s also helpful for those who don’t eat meat.
If you suffer from cramping muscles, your body may be deficient in potassium. The potassium in broccoli may help alleviate muscle cramps, and can also aid in lowering blood pressure. Potassium also helps to facilitate the release of glycogen (calories from carbohydrates stored in the muscles) when the body requires more energy.
Let’s talk lutein. While it’s known that lutein helps to protect and improve eye health, it can also help prevent heart disease. Lutein keeps arteries open and clear, and blood flowing freely, two important processes in protection against heart disease.
Broccoli is also a great source of fiber! Fiber serves many purposes for the body. It helps to regulate blood sugar, it prevents the absorption of cholesterol, and promotes gut health and regularity. All of these benefits are especially helpful for diabetics as it is crucial to control blood sugar, as well as, heart health. Without fiber, our digestive tract suffers, we develop high cholesterol that may lead to heart disease, and inflammation may increase in the body.
The vast majority of Americans get less than half of the daily recommended 25 and 35 grams of fiber, but one cup of broccoli alone contains 5 grams! While broccoli may not be an instant miracle cure for diabetes, it is a nutritious food with lots of health benefits, one of which being lower blood sugar.
Check out these 10 family-friendly broccoli recipes and get cooking!