A research conducted by a group of scientists from universities in Sweden just discovered that a substance found in broccoli is more effective in treating patients with type 2 diabetes than the usual prescription medicine.
The research comes after testing more than 3,000 compounds that could alter the genes responsible for type 2 diabetes, and sulforaphane, a naturally occurring chemical compound in cruciferous vegetables, stood out from the thousands.
The study, led by Annika S. Axelsson from the Lund University Diabetes Centre, used a concentrated broccoli sprout extract in powder form to administer the sulforaphane on trial subjects. The group's main objective is to find a treatment as effective as metformin that would not damage the liver.
The researchers first tested how well sulforaphane would work against type 2 diabetes by treating diabetic mice and found great improvement in their condition before continuing with human clinical trials.
The human clinical trial was small, with only 97 type 2 diabetic patients involved, so the researchers believe a bigger test is needed to truly see the benefits.
During the test, about half of the patients were given concentrated sulforaphane daily for three months while the other half were given a placebo. Only three out of the 97 patients did not take metformin during the trials, but the researchers found that they were able to maintain their condition well enough with just the sulforaphane extract.
Take note, however, that the extract is about 100 times more powerful than what is naturally found in broccoli, and to achieve the same concentration by eating the vegetable alone, patients would have to eat about 5 kilograms daily.
"We saw a reduction of glucose of about 10 per cent, which is sufficient to reduce complications in the eyes, kidneys and blood," study coauthor Anders H. Rosengren said.
Sulforaphane Is Not A Replacement Drug
According to the researchers, sulforaphane and metformin work differently, so it is better to consider the ultra-concentrated broccoli extract as a supplement to metformin. Both regulate glucose production, but while metformin stimulates cells to keep excess insulin out of the bloodstream, sulforaphane works by suppressing the liver enzymes that cause overproduction.
"More research is needed to see if this repurposed drug can be used to treat Type 2 diabetes, as it was only tested in a small number of people and only helped a subset of those who are taking it," Elizabeth Robertson from Diabetes UK expressed.
That said, the researchers also recommend that patients should still continue taking their usual treatment, but if that is not enough reason to love broccoli, we're not sure what is.