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Circulatory and heart improvement, eye protection, lowered blood sugar, decreased LDL or bad cholesterol, weight loss and greater reception of cells to insulin all are benefits of broccoli for diabetes. These advantages stem from the compounds, vitamins and minerals broccoli contains, which interact with enzymes within the body. Notedly, these may not be the only ways broccoli can help diabetics. Research still is being done on broccoli and other vegetables to determine if other benefits of broccoli for diabetes are available.
Broccoli has significant benefits for the heart and circulatory system of a diabetic. Similar to other cruciferous vegetables, broccoli contains chemicals called glucosinolates, which the body converts to isothiocyanates. These substances help protect the cells of the body, including those within the veins and arteries, from oxidative stress that increases the risk of heart attack, stroke and circulatory problems. Some research suggests that sulforaphane, the main isothiocyanate from broccoli, can reduce free radical production by nearly 75 percent.
The benefit of broccoli for diabetes related to sulforaphane is somewhat indirect. Sulforaphane causes a chemical reaction that stimulates enzymes in the body. It is these enzymes that experts believe provide the valued free-radical protection that benefits the heart and circulatory system.
Many vitamins, minerals and other substances that are good for the body are present in broccoli, such as chromium, vitamin C, beta-carotene and fiber. Each of these elements can target specific areas of concerns for diabetics. Chromium helps lower blood sugar, while vitamin C is an antioxidant that, similar to sulforaphane, can battle free radicals. Beta-carotene is connected to healthy eyes — many diabetics experience loss of vision as a result of the disease. Fiber supports weight loss that can lower the resistance of cells to insulin and can reduce LDL or bad cholesterol.
It is not known exactly how much broccoli for diabetes is needed to be effective, making it a little unclear how much broccoli a diabetic has to consume on a regular basis to see improvement. The evidence available is promising enough, however, that professionals are pursuing additional research to understand exactly how beneficial broccoli and other vegetables might be for the disease.
One important note about the benefits of broccoli for diabetes is that broccoli looses much of its value the more it is cooked. Raw broccoli is ideal, but steaming the vegetable for just a few minutes provides a cooked option that still is nutrient- and vitamin-rich. For dishes that require other ingredients such as meat to cook longer, it's best to add the broccoli at the end of preparation to retain its advantages.
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