Researchers have discovered eating broccoli
could undo the damage caused by diabetes to heart blood vessels.
Professor Paul Thornalley and his team from the University
of Warwick have found a broccoli compound called Sulforaphane.
This compound can encourage the body to produce more enzymes
to protect the vessels, as well as reduce high levels of molecules
which cause significant cell damage.
Past studies have shown that a diet rich in vegetables –
particularly brassica vegetables such as broccoli –
is linked to decreased risk of heart disease and stroke. People
with diabetes have a particularly high risk of heart disease
and stroke and other health impairments, such as kidney disease,
are linked to damaged blood vessels.
Professor Thornalley, at the University’s Warwick Medical
School, tested the effects of Sulforaphane on blood vessel
cells damaged by high glucose levels (hyperglycaemia).
His team observed a significant reduction of molecules in
the body called Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS). Hyperglycaemia
can cause levels of ROS to increase three-fold and such high
levels can damage human cells. The results of the study showed
that Sulforaphane reversed this increase in ROS by 73 per
They also found Sulforaphane activated a protein in the body
called nrf2, which protects cells and tissues from oxidative
stress by activating protective antioxidant and detoxifying
enzymes. The study showed the presence of Sulforaphane in
human microvascular cells doubled the activation of nrf2.
Professor Thornalley said: “Our study suggests that
compounds such as Sulforaphane from broccoli may help counter
processes linked to the development of vascular disease in
diabetes. In future, it will be important to test if eating
a diet rich in Brassica vegetables has health benefits for
diabetic patients. We expect that it will.”
The study was funded by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation
International, The Wellcome Trust and the Biotechnological
and Biological Sciences Research Council.