Can eating more of these vegetables protect your circulation and heart health?

According to research, Brussels sprouts, kale, broccoli, and other cruciferous vegetables reduce the risk of vascular disease in older women.

Blood vessel disease is a leading cause of death worldwide, caused by a build-up of fatty deposits, calcium and inflammatory cells in the walls of arteries and veins, which over time reduces the blood flow, leading to cardiac problems and strokes. Unhealthy diets contribute to the build-up.

Lauren Blekkenhorst and a team from Edith Cowan University School of Medical and Health Sciences and the University of Western Australia compared the intake of cruciferous vegetables with calcium build-up in the aorta in 684 older women participating in a long-term study. The aorta is the main blood vessel carrying blood from the heart to the body and a key marker for blood vessel disease.

The results published in the British Journal of Nutrition found eating just 45g of cruciferous vegetables daily – the equivalent of ¼ cup of steamed broccoli or ½ a cup of cabbage – reduced the likelihood of having extensive calcification of the aorta by 46%.

Cruciferous vegetables contain large amounts of vitamin K, which may impede calcium build-up in blood vessels and explain the benefits to vascular health.

“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,” said Dr Lauren Blekkenhorst in a press release. “Our findings from this new study provides insight into the potential mechanisms involved.”

“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.” Said Dr Blekkenhorst.


Lauren C. Blekkenhorst, Marc Sim, Simone Radavelli-Bagatini, Nicola P. Bondonno, Catherine P. Bondonno, Amanda Devine, John T. Schousboe, Wai H. Lim, Douglas P. Kiel, Richard J. Woodman, Jonathan M. Hodgson, Richard L. Prince, Joshua R. Lewis. Cruciferous vegetable intake is inversely associated with extensive abdominal aortic calcification in elderly women: a cross-sectional study. British Journal of Nutrition, 2020; 1 DOI: 10.1017/S0007114520002706

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