there is another good reason to eat your greens. Broccoli, the
superfood already credited with the potential to fight cancer,
cataracts and stomach ulcers, has been found to aid diabetics.
Researchers believe a compound in the vegetable could reverse the negative effects of diabetes on the heart.
While studies are at an early stage, scientists believe broccoli could
be a significant weapon in the battle against heart disease.
Diabetes raises the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease five-fold.
A team from the University of Warwick found that the compound
sulforaphane, found in broccoli, can encourage the body to produce
enzymes that protect the blood vessels.
It also reduces levels of the molecules which cause significant cell damage.
Previous research has shown that a diet rich in vegetables,
particularly brassica vegetables like broccoli, is linked to a reduced
risk of heart disease and stroke.
In the current study, published in the journal Diabetes, Professor Paul
Thornalley and colleagues tested the effects of sulforaphane in the lab
on blood vessel cells damaged by high glucose levels – hyperglycaemia.
They found that adding the compound reversed the increase in molecules
in the body called reactive oxygen species (ROS) by 73 per cent.
Hyperglycaemia – a serious problem among diabetes – can cause ROS
levels to increase threefold and such high levels can damage human
The researchers also found sulforaphane activated a protein in the body which protects cells and tissues from damage.
Prof Thornalley said: "Our study suggests compounds such as
sulforaphane may help counter processes linked to the development of
vascular disease in diabetes.
"It will be important to test if a diet rich in brassica vegetables has
health benefits for diabetic patients. We expect it will."
The finding could be welcome news for the almost 200,000 people in Scotland with diabetes.
Dr Iain Frame, director of research at Diabetes UK, pointed out that
the current research had focused on cells grown in a lab, some way from
"However," he said, "it is encouraging to see that Prof Thornalley and
his team have identified a potentially important substance that may
protect and repair blood vessels from the damaging effects of diabetes.
"It also may add some scientific weight to the argument that eating broccoli is good for you."