What did the media say?
The media reported that eating broccoli could reverse the damage caused by diabetes to heart blood vessels.
What did the research show?
Researchers isolated a compound in broccoli called sulforaphane. In the laboratory, they tested the effects of the compound on endothelial cells that had been damaged by hyperglycaemia.
They observed a significant – 73% – reduction of molecules called reactive oxygen species.
Hyperglycaemia can cause levels of reactive oxygen species to increase threefold and such high levels can damage human cells.
The researchers also found sulforaphane activated a protein in the body called NF-E2-related factor-2 (nrf2), which protects cells and tissues from oxidative stress by activating protective antioxidant and detoxifying enzymes.
The study, published online in the journal Diabetes, showed that the presence of sulforaphane in human microvascular cells doubled the activation of nrf2.
What did the researchers say?
Lead author Paul Thornalley, from the Clinical Sciences Research Institute at Warwick University’s medical school, 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.’
What does this mean for nursing practice?
Dr Iain Frame, director of research at Diabetes UK, said: ‘The results reported here were of studies carried out in human cells grown in different concentrations of glucose so we need to be aware that this is a long way from the real-life situation.
‘However, it is encouraging to see that Professor Thornalley and his team have identified a potentially important substance that may protect and repair blood vessels from the damaging effects of diabetes.’
He added: ‘It also may help add some scientific weight to the argument that eating broccoli is good for you. Eating a healthy balanced diet that includes plenty of fruit and vegetables is key to helping people with diabetes achieve good blood glucose levels.’