Broccoli, brussels sprouts help prevent blood vessel disease

Monday, 14 September, 2020

Broccoli, brussels sprouts help prevent blood vessel disease

A research team led by Edith Cowan University (ECU) has shown that higher consumption of cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, brussels sprouts and cabbage, is associated with less extensive blood vessel disease in older women. Their findings have been published in the British Journal of Nutrition.

Blood vessel disease is a condition that affects the arteries and veins and can reduce the flow of blood circulating around the body. This reduction in blood flow can be due to the build-up of fatty calcium deposits on the inner walls of our blood vessels, such as the aorta — and is the leading cause of having a heart attack or stroke.

Lead researcher Dr Lauren Blekkenhorst said she had noticed something intriguing about cruciferous vegetables which this study has shed more light on. “In our previous studies we identified those with a higher intake of these vegetables had a reduced risk of having a clinical cardiovascular disease event, such as a heart attack or stroke, but we weren’t sure why,” she said.

Using data from a cohort of 684 older Western Australian women recruited in 1998, the researchers found those with a diet comprising more cruciferous vegetables had a lower chance of having extensive build-up of calcium on their aorta — a key marker for structural blood vessel disease.

“One particular constituent found abundantly in cruciferous vegetables is vitamin K, which may be involved in inhibiting the calcification process that occurs in our blood vessels,” Dr Blekkenhorst said.

Dr Blekkenhorst said women in this study who consumed more than 45 g of cruciferous vegetables every day (eg, a quarter cup of steamed broccoli or half a cup of raw cabbage) were 46% less likely to have extensive build-up of calcium on their aorta in comparison to those consuming little to no cruciferous vegetables every day.

“That’s not to say the only vegetables we should be eating are broccoli, cabbage and brussels sprouts. We should be eating a wide variety of vegetables every day for overall good health and wellbeing.”

Heart Foundation Manager, Food and Nutrition Beth Meertens said the findings of this observational study were promising and that the Heart Foundation would like to see more research in this area.

“Heart disease is the single leading cause of death in Australia and poor diet is responsible for the largest proportion of the burden of heart disease, accounting for 65.5% of the total burden of heart disease,” Meertens said.

“This study provides valuable insights into how this group of vegetables might contribute to the health of our arteries and ultimately our heart.”

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