London — Consuming extracts of broccoli — a cruciferous vegetable rich in vitamins, fibre and disease-fighting phytochemicals — may help people with Type 2 diabetes to manage their blood sugar, researchers say. Type 2 diabetes affects around 450 million people worldwide and as many as 15 per cent of those patients cannot take the first-line therapy metformin because of kidney damage risks.
The findings showed that broccoli, which is also rich in sulforaphane, a naturally occurring compound found in cruciferous vegetables, may help reverse the disease signature. In the study, conducted on rats, this compound reduced glucose production by liver cells that were growing in culture and shifted the liver gene expression away from a diseased state in the rats with diabetes.
Sulforaphane reversed the disease signature in the livers from diabetic animals and cut exaggerated glucose production and glucose intolerance by a magnitude similar to that of metformin, said researcher Annika Axelsson from the Lund University in Sweden.
In addition, sulforaphane provided as concentrated broccoli sprout extract reduced fasting blood glucose and glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) in obese patients with dysregulated Type 2 diabetes.
For the study, appearing in the journal Science Translational Medicine, the team constructed a signature for Type 2 diabetes based on 50 genes, then used publically available expression datasets to screen 3,852 compounds for drugs that potentially reverse disease.
When the researchers gave concentrated broccoli sprout extracts to 97 human Type 2 diabetes patients in a 12-week randomised placebo-controlled trial, obese participants who had dysregulated disease demonstrated significantly decreased fasting blood glucose levels compared to controls.