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Broccoli and Diabetes

by
author image Jessica Bruso
Based in Massachusetts, Jessica Bruso has been writing since 2008. She holds a master of science degree in food policy and applied nutrition and a bachelor of arts degree in international relations, both from Tufts University.
Broccoli and Diabetes
Bowl of broccoli Photo Credit Lars Kastilan/iStock/Getty Images

People with diabetes need to take special care with their diet to keep their blood sugar levels within the appropriate range. Although careful planning can make it so you can eat any food, at least in small doses, there are some foods that are particularly healthy for diabetics. Broccoli is among them.

Diabetes Diet

The main principles of a diabetes diet are to consume plenty of whole grains, vegetables and fruits and to limit both fat and calories. High-fiber foods, fish and unsaturated fats are recommended, while saturated fats, sodium, cholesterol and trans fats should be avoided as much as possible, according to the American Heart Association. Meals should be planned to keep you from experiencing spikes in blood sugar, as this can bring your blood sugar levels too high. Counting carbs, using the glycemic index or using diabetes exchange lists can make it easier to keep your blood sugar even throughout the day.

Broccoli and Diabetes

Broccoli contains 5 grams of fiber for a 1/2-cup serving and contains only 50 calories, but it is also recommended because certain chemicals in broccoli may help prevent damage caused to the blood vessels by diabetes. A study led by Paul Thornalley published in the journal "Diabetes" in 2008 found that the sulforaphanes in broccoli may activate protective enzymes that limit this type of cell damage. The study was conducted in a lab using sulforaphane and blood vessels with damage from high levels of blood sugar, which is still a long way from proving that eating broccoli will prevent this type of damage, according to the U.K. National Health Service. Further studies need to be done to document this effect, including human trials.

Other Possible Benefits

The sulphurophanes and other phytonutrients in broccoli may also lower your risk for cancer. They help to remove toxins from the body, get rid of free radicals and help stop the division of cancer cells. Eating broccoli may slow down the spread of cancer cells throughout the body. A study in the May 1, 2010 issue of "Clinical Cancer Research" states that sulphurophanes in broccoli may specifically help prevent the development and spread of breast cancer.

Potential

Broccoli is a very nutritious food that is healthy for diabetics. A 1/2-cup serving contains 220 percent of the daily value for vitamin C, 50 percent of the daily value for vitamin A, 20 percent of the daily value for folate, 15 percent of the daily value for vitamin B-6, 10 percent of the daily value for phosphorus, magnesium and riboflavin, 8 percent of the daily value for thiamine, calcium and iron and 6 percent of the daily value for niacin and zinc. A serving of broccoli is fat-free and provides 5 grams of protein and 10 grams of carbohydrates.

Diabetes Treatment

Diabetics should use medications and diet to control their diabetes, according to the UK National Health Service. Broccoli can be a part of that healthy diet, since it provides a lot of nutrition while being low on the glycemic index so it won't have a large effect on blood sugar levels. However, eating broccoli does not allow you to stop taking your diabetes medications.

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