Eating broccoli could reverse the damage that diabetes inflicts on heart blood vessels. The key is most likely a compound in the vegetable called sulforaphane.
Sulforaphane encourages production of enzymes that protect the blood vessels, and reduces the number of molecules that cause cell damage — known as Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) — by up to 73 percent.
People with diabetes are up to five times more likely to develop cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes — both of which are linked to damaged blood vessels.
Keeping your heart healthy is extremely important if you have diabetes. Heart disease is actually the most common side effect of the condition, and 65 percent of people with diabetes die from heart attack or stroke.
If diabetes is not controlled, it can damage blood vessels, including those leading to the brain and heart. This encourages the formation of plaques (also known as atherosclerosis), which can ultimately make it difficult for blood to flow through the vessels and cause your blood pressure to rise.
The Mayo Clinic actually has some revealing statistics on this topic. If you have diabetes you:
Are two to four times as likely to have a heart attack or stroke (compared to someone without diabetes)
Are more likely to die from a heart attack
Have the same risk for sudden death from a heart attack as someone who has already had a heart attack. Tim Russert, the NBC correspondent who recently died without warning of a heart attack, actually had diabetes and coronary artery disease, both of which increased his risk of sudden death. Yet, it’s estimated that 70 percent of people with diabetes are not aware of these increased risks.
On the flip side, if you’ve had a heart attack, you should be checked for diabetes or pre-diabetes. One study found that over two-thirds of heart attack patients had blood sugar abnormalities in the form of undiagnosed diabetes or pre-diabetes.
How Might Broccoli Help?
One of broccoli’s most powerful compounds is the phytochemical sulforaphane. This compound has been found to restore your immune system as you age and increase your liver’s ability to detoxify carcinogenic compounds and free radicals. This in turn protects against cell mutations, cancer and other harmful effects.
It turns out sulforaphane also protects your heart, via two routes:
- It reduces levels of harmful molecules called Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS).
- It activates a protein called nrf2, which triggers protective antioxidant and detoxifying enzymes that protect your cells and tissues.
Broccoli is not the only vegetable that contains sulforaphane, though. Most of the veggies in the cruciferous family also contain it, and this includes vegetables such as turnips, cabbage, bok choy, rutabaga, mustard greens, cauliflower, radishes and many others.
To really get the most benefit, it helps to find out your nutritional type, as some people actually do not do well with broccoli.
For instance, one of the most serious mistakes is for a protein nutritional type to consume a lot of dark green vegetables. This tends to over-alkalinize your system and worsens rather than improves your health if you’re a protein type. This is despite the many beneficial phytonutrients that are present. I am very familiar with this mistake as it’s one that I made prior to understanding nutritional typing.
However, other cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, which happens to be beneficial for protein types, can have a similar beneficial effect.
I want you to be aware of just how important it is to understand your body at a deeper level, because if you are a protein type and were to eat broccoli, the other effects of broccoli might push your metabolic biochemistry in the wrong direction and thus override its benefits.
What’s the Best Way to Eat Broccoli?
If you want to get even more of broccoli’s benefits, opt for the sprouts. Just 5 grams (0.17 ounces) of broccoli sprouts contain concentrations of the compound glucoraphanin (a precursor to sulforaphane) equal to that found in 150 grams (5.2 ounces) of mature broccoli.
If you opt to eat mature broccoli, keep in mind that the way you cook it can greatly alter its nutrient content. Lightly steaming this vegetable should keep most of its phytonutrients intact, but if you decide to microwave it you could be reducing the beneficial compounds by 74-90 percent.
You can always just eat broccoli raw, of course, and this will ensure that most all of its phytonutrients are intact.
Other Natural Methods to Prevent Diabetes and Protect Your Heart
Eating broccoli and other veggies is only one small piece of the puzzle when it comes to keeping healthy.
Swapping out your grains and sugar for high-quality sources of protein, healthy fat (which INCLUDES saturated fat) and vegetables according to your nutritional type, all of which is outlined in my book Take Control of Your Health, is also essential, especially for those of you with diabetes.
Next, add in regular exercise. This, combined with diet, will help you to shed excess weight, and a weight loss of 10 pounds can reduce your risk of diabetes by nearly 60 percent.
Diet and exercise are your two keys to preventing both heart disease and diabetes, but the third factor, especially for heart disease, is your emotions. Stress is the most common cause of heart attacks, so make sure you know how to keep your emotions under control using methods like the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), meditation, or even just a long soak in the tub with a really good book.