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Broccoli for Diabetes

Broccoli, a cruciferous vegetable is part of the Brassica family. It contains a high concentration of sulforaphane, a sulfur compound which is very effective in combating diseases. It is rich in vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and dietary fiber and is most nutritious if eaten raw. Broccoli is good for diabetes treatment and control, because of its excellent nutritional qualities. To understand how it benefits diabetics’ health, one must know a bit about diabetes.

Diabetes is a disease where the body cannot absorb glucose from the food it digests.

This is due to problems with insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, which is needed to absorb and utilize glucose from the blood. This leads to abnormally high levels of sugar in the blood which can have potentially fatal consequences. In Type 1 diabetes, which affects people at a young age, the body’s immune system attacks and destroys cells in the pancreas that are responsible for producing insulin. This leads to a spike in blood sugar levels. Type 2 diabetes occurs when body cells that normally react to insulin do not respond to the hormone. The condition is called insulin resistance. Left untreated, diabetes can cause kidney damage, heart disease, dangerous infections and even erectile dysfunction. Heart disease alone claims the life of almost 80% of diabetics. Diet and exercise can help prevent a lot of the damage caused by diabetes. More on health benefits of broccoli

Broccoli for Type 2 Diabetes

Research has shown that broccoli is packed with nutrients that can help you live a healthier life. It is full of antioxidants, fiber, minerals and vitamins and at the same time has few calories–an important factor when it comes to a diabetes diet. In addition, a phytochemical in broccoli–sulforaphane– may be able to prevent and even reverse the damage caused by diabetes. Diabetes causes damage to the blood vessels, increasing their risk of suffering from heart disease, heart attack and stroke. Sulforaphane in broccoli can help keep the heart healthy, lowering the risk of heart attack and stroke. It also has potent anti-cancer properties and works by increasing liver enzyme levels that are responsible for the destruction of cancer causing chemicals in the body. According to experts, consuming high amounts of broccoli reduces the risks of developing breast, ovarian, lung, colon, prostate and bladder cancer.

Broccoli is loaded with vitamin C – a potent antioxidant. 1 cup of broccoli contains about 115 mg. of vitamin C. Even in small amounts, vitamin C can protect our bodies from the damage caused by free radicals. The damage caused by them can lead to diabetes, cardiac disease and stroke, and broccoli can protect us from these killer diseases. Broccoli is rich in dietary fiber which can lower levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol. This lowering of cholesterol helps protect the arteries and prevents the onset of heart disease. High fiber foods such as broccoli also help with weight loss, an important factor in controlling diabetes as it decreases insulin resistance. The less resistant cells are to insulin, the more effective it is in keeping blood sugar levels under check.

Chromium is another trace element that is present in broccoli. The body needs chromium to manufacture glucose tolerance factor (GTF) which helps to metabolize blood sugar. Today, many Americans have low levels of chromium because of unhealthy diets, rich in refined carbohydrates. Another potent antioxidant in broccoli, beta carotene is essential for maintaining healthy eyes. This is of particular concern to diabetics who are prone to developing retinopathy. It has a high content of potassium, sodium, calcium, and phosphorus and has traces of iron, copper, zinc, selenium and manganese. It is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids which are also good for heart health.

Broccoli for Type 1 Diabetes

Broccoli is beneficial for type 1 diabetics too. It will, however, not be able to reverse the disease, but can help in maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system by the action of its antioxidants and phytochemicals. Type 1 diabetics will have to continue taking their insulin and other medications as prescribed by their physicians.

Broccoli Recipe for Diabetes

Choose plants with closely packed heads and dark colored stalks as these will have a high nutritional content. Remember to also include the stems and the leaves for their high fiber and nutrient content. Cooking broccoli tends to destroy its nutrients and it is recommended that you eat it raw or lightly steamed. You can make a salad by chopping up 1 cup of raw broccoli, adding lettuce, sprouts and sprinkling a bit of extra virgin olive oil. Add a few crunchy bits of walnuts and enjoy a nutritious and healthy salad.
Submitted on January 16, 2014