The diabetes ‘drug’ on your dinner plate

If you’re trying to eat healthy, then you probably eat broccoli at least a few times per week…

It’s one of the most touted cancer-fighting foods, after all. Plus it can slow aging, strengthen your bones and keep your digestive health on track too.

But there’s another big broccoli benefit that hasn’t gotten much press yet, even though it could help fight one of the greatest epidemics of our day… diabetes.

Mounting research suggests that a compound in broccoli could lower blood sugar, improve insulin sensitivity and reduce inflammation in people with diabetes.

That means this compound could be the next big diabetes “drug”… except it’s all natural, side-effect free and you can find it in the produce section of your grocery store…

Sulforaphane squashes diabetes

A recent study from researchers in Sweden, the U.S. and Switzerland found that a compound in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables called sulforaphane reduced the production of glucose in cultured liver cells from rats with type 2 diabetes.

These researchers decided to test sulforaphane for its diabetes-fighting effect after searching through a database of compounds to see which most closely impacted the genes associated with diabetes. Sulforaphane stood out from the rest, which explains why the results of their first experiment on diabetic rat cells was a success.

Since they had success with sulforaphane in cells from diabetic rats, they decided to take their experiment to the next level and test this compound on 97 obese human volunteers with type 2 diabetes for 12 weeks. Sure enough, sulforaphane did the trick for them too… it significantly lowered their fasting blood sugar levels.

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Now, this is far from the first time sulforaphane has been shown to have a diabetes-fighting effect. A 2014 study showed that sulforaphane reduced glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity in obese mice. And a 2010 study showed that sulforaphane reduced inflammation in people with type 2 diabetes.

So does sulforaphane have some sort of super power against diabetes? Possibly. And if researchers’ suspicions are right, it seems to work at the genetic level. That means, if diabetes runs in your family, keep piling that broccoli on your plate!

Satisfying your body’s need for sulforaphane

Broccoli is a great source of sulforaphane, but it’s not the only source. Or necessarily the most potent source. In fact, broccoli sprouts contain 20 to 50 times more sulforaphane than mature broccoli. You’ll also find sulforaphane in:

  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Bok choy
  • Kale
  • Collards
  • Chinese broccoli
  • Broccoli raab
  • Kohlrabi
  • Mustard
  • Turnip
  • Radish
  • Rocket
  • Watercress

And, of course, sulforaphane isn’t just a diabetes-fighter, it’s a cancer-fighter too. It’s the reason broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables are considered the crème de la crème of cancer-fighting foods. So get your fill now, and you’ll probably dodge not one but two of the greatest health epidemics ever.

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  1. Sulforaphane in broccoli sprouts found to improve glucose levels in diabetics. — MedicalXpress. Retrieved June 15, 2017.
  2. S. Axelsson, et al. “Sulforaphane reduces hepatic glucose production and improves glucose control in patients with type 2 diabetes.” — Science Translational Medicine, 2017.
  3. Luo, et al. “Dietary supplementation of sulforaphane improves glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity in middle-aged obese mice (809.4).” — The FASEB Journal, 2017.
  4. Mirmiran, et al. “Effects of broccoli sprout with high sulforaphane concentration on inflammatory markers in type 2 diabetic patients: A randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial.” — Journal of Functional Foods, 2012.
  5. Cancer Fighting Foods: Fruits and Veggies That Reduce Your Cancer Risk. — Nutrition Digest. The American Nutrition Association. Retrieved June 15, 2017.
Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine,, and