It’s Defeat Diabetes Month – and one of the healthy foods to stock in your dietary arsenal is broccoli, which may protect blood vessels from damage that quadruples the risk of heart disease.  Diabetics’ high blood sugar can triple their levels of free radicals — unstable molecules which wreak havoc on healthy cells, including those that line the insides of our arteries and veins. Compromised vascular health contributes to a variety of diabetic woes, ranging from kidney failure to heart attack and stroke. Fortunately, encouraging research suggests broccoli consumption can counter this dysfunction.

British researchers observing the lining of human blood vessels under laboratory conditions found that sulforaphane – an  indirect antioxidant in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables – reduced production of free radicals by 73%. The sulforaphane triggers a biochemical chain reaction, activating detoxifying Phase II enzymes, which in turn protect the body’s circulatory system from oxidative stress.

Everyone, including diabetics, can enjoy broccoli’s myriad other health advantages:

  • Eating just ½ cup of either broccoli or cauliflower a week could reduce prostate cancer risk by nearly half, according to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
  • A study in the Journal of Neuroscience suggests that compounds in broccoli might help rally certain proteins that protect the brain after injury.
  • A study published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research found that a  compound derived from broccoli targets breast cancer stem cells – or CSCs, which only develop into cancer cells, seeding malignancy and driving cancer reoccurrence. This compound, called sulforaphane, killed up to 80% of nasty CSCs.

For a delicious way to enjoy broccoli, try our Sesame Ginger Frittata with Broccoli and Shrimp.

Published April 1, 2013