People with diabetes are at high risk for heart disease, stroke, and other conditions linked to damaged blood vessels — like kidney disease. This is because damaged blood vessels in the heart trigger the production of high levels of oxidizing molecules called ROS (Reactive Oxygen Species). These molecules lead to a five times greater risk of having a stroke or heart disease. But this doesn?t have to happen to you.
All you need to do is add a few servings of a common vegetable to your diet on a regular basis. Doing so can protect your heart blood vessels and even reverse some of its damage.
Brassica vegetables contain a compound called sulforaphane. This chemical activates a protein that turns on genes that increase antioxidants and protective enzymes. Together, these fight the oxidizing molecules (ROS).
Scientists at the University of Warwick wanted to know if sulforaphane would prevent damage to blood vessels caused by high glucose. Here?s what they found:
Sulforaphane reduced oxidizing molecules from high blood sugar by 73%! And it doubled the amount of antioxidants and protective enzymes in blood vessel cells.
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Professor Paul Thornalley, one of the researchers for this study, said this "suggests that compounds such as sulforaphane from broccoli may help counter processes linked to the development of vascular disease in diabetes." He believes that future studies will show that broccoli and other brassicas can enhance the health of diabetics. And they might even repair some of the damage to blood vessels the disease causes.
Meanwhile, eat your broccoli. And cabbage. And bok choy, kale, and turnips. They?re all part of the brassica family, and all of these vegetables can protect your blood vessels.
Don?t have diabetes? Eat your brassicas often anyway. They can help prevent the disease in the first place. And other studies show they protect against cancer. In fact, they may be some of the most healthful vegetables you can eat regularly.
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Dr. Janet Zand
Mingzhan, X, et al, "Activation of NF-E2-related factor-2 reverses biochemical dysfunction of endothelial cells induced by hyperglycemia linked to vascular disease," Diabetes, August 4, 2008.