Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Fighting Diabetic Complications with Broccosprouts

I'm ordinarily loathe to write about "super foods." Today's super food tends to become tomorrow's over-hyped super-flop.

But one of the superfoods for diabetes of 2011 is still getting good reports today, so I'm reposting my article on fighting diabetes complications with broccosprouts, like the 5-day-old broccoli sprouts pictured at the left.



A study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition reveals that consuming 5 to 10 grams of dried broccoli sprouts every day (that's about a quarter-cup of loosely packed sprouts) can greatly risk of antioxidant stress caused by diabetes.

Lowering antioxidant stress is believed to lower the risk of Alzheimer's disease and cardiovascular disorders, both of which more commonly strike diabetics. Free radicals of oxygen are actually essential to health. Cells use them to send signals to each other, and free radicals of oxygen activate the immune system.

The problem for diabetics occurs when cells are flooded with so much sugar that "burning" the sugar as fuel creates more free radicals of oxygen than enzyme systems can handle. High blood sugar levels can also cause oxidative damage in the blood itself and in nerve tissues all over the body. Oxidation underlies the biochemical processes that lead to neuropathy and atherosclerosis as well as aged-related dementias such as Alzheimer's disease.

Cabbage family plants contain glucosinolates that the body transforms into isothiocyanates, which in turn regenerate antioxidants that counteract excesses of free radicals. These sulfur-bearing compounds are found in especially high concentration in sprouts of broccoli seeds, and in even higher concentrations when the sprouts are air-dried at low temperatures and dried.

There are smaller amounts of glucoinolates in cabbage, the mature broccoli you are probably more used to eating, turnips. kohlrabi, mustard greens, kale, cauliflower, and watercress.

Not everybody responds to glucosinolates with equal improvement. Some people, about 10% of the population, have genetics that keep them from responding at all.

But if you are diabetic and you smoke or you are exposed to toxic chemicals on a daily basis, adding these any of these vegetables is probably going to be of long-term benefit, but especially broccoli sprout powder. Use broccoli powder in teaspoon-sized doses in a smoothie or add to a soup after it's been cooked. About 1/4 cup of fresh broccoli sprouts would have the same effect.

Source: European Journal of Clinical Nutrition Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2011.59 “Broccoli sprouts reduce oxidative stress in type 2 diabetes: a randomized double-blind clinical trial” Authors: Z Bahadoran, P Mirmira, et al.

Photo credit: Julie Gibbons, via Wikimedia Commons.

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