Could a vegetable be the key to fighting diabetes?

People with type 2 diabetes may have a new way to control their blood sugar according to a new medical study. Scientists found a chemical that lowers blood sugar levels from an unexpected source: broccoli! It’s yet another reason to love veggies!

Type 2 Diabetes On The Rise

The discovery comes at a time when type 2 diabetes affects nearly 10 percent of Americans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 29 million people in the U.S. have type 2 diabetes. And another 8 million people could be undiagnosed, as well.

Left untreated, type 2 diabetes can lead to heart disease, stroke, blindness, amputations, kidney disease and even death.

Type 2 diabetes patients can sometimes control their blood sugar by maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly. However, many people need additional treatment with medications such as metformin. While metformin works well in lowering blood sugar, it can also lead to kidney damage in up to 15 percent of patients.

So scientists constantly look for new treatments with fewer side effects and higher treatment success rates. That research led to the discovery of broccoli’s potential to manage blood sugar levels.

type 2 diabetes photo
Flickr | cogdogblog

Genetic Profile Finds Potential Diabetes Reversal

The Lund University Diabetes Centre of Sweden created a genetic profile for type 2 diabetes, according to Newsweek. From there, researchers tested 3,852 different compounds to find the ones that could reverse that genetic code. One chemical, sulforaphane, showed the most promise. Sulforaphane can be found in vegetables like broccoli. Once they pinpointed the compound, researchers could begin testing.

First, scientists ran a successful test on animal livers. Next, they moved to a limited study on 97 people with type 2 diabetes. Subjects either received concentrated broccoli sprout extract or a placebo once a day for 12 weeks. Of the 97 people, all but three took metformin to control their condition.

Those who took the concentrated extract saw a 10 percent reduction in fasting blood sugar levels compared to the placebo. As a bonus, the extract did not cause the gastrointestinal side effects usually found in metformin or other medications.

broccoli photo type 2 diabetes
Flickr | JeepersMedia

Broccoli Isn’t An Official Diabetes Treatment—Yet

The research results show a lot of promise, but researchers can’t recommend any form of new treatment at this point. Studies on high doses of sulforaphane need to continue before any official treatment can be recommended or approved.

“It’s very exciting and opens up new possibilities for the treatment of type 2 diabetes,” Anders Rosengren, an assistant professor at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, told Live Science.

In the meantime, it can’t hurt to load your plate up with some broccoli!