- Blood vessel disease reduces the flow of circulating blood to different parts of the body
- Build-up of fatty, calcium deposits in the inner walls of blood vessels is the reason for the reduction in blood flow
- Consumption of more cruciferous vegetables lower the chance of build-up of calcium in blood vessels
- The presence of vitamin K in the cruciferous vegetables could be inhibiting the calcification process occurring blood vessels
Higher consumption of cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage, are associated with less extensive blood vessel disease in older women. The new findings are published in the British Journal of Nutrition.
A cohort study of 684 older Western Australian women recruited in 1998, researchers from ECU's School of Medical and Health Sciences and The University of Western Australia, showed that those who consumed more cruciferous vegetables had a lower chance of having an extensive build-up of calcium on their aorta, a key marker for structural blood vessel disease.
Blood vessel disease affects the blood vessels of the body such as arteries and veins. Many reasons including unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, or a sedentary lifestyle, lead to the formation of fatty, calcium deposits in the inner walls of blood vessels. This reduces blood flow to various parts of the body.
Why Broccoli and Brussels sprouts
According to lead researcher Dr.Lauren Blekkenhorst, something intriguing about cruciferous vegetables is what makes them beneficial for blood vessels.
"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.
"Our findings from this new study provides insight into the potential mechanisms involved.We have now found that older women consuming higher amounts of cruciferous vegetables every day have lower odds of having extensive calcification on their aorta," she said.
"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."
Women in this study who consumed more than 45g of cruciferous vegetables every day that included ¼ cup of steamed broccoli or ½ cup of raw cabbage, were 46 percent less likely to have extensive build-up of calcium on their aorta, compared to those who consumed 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 well-being."
According to Heart Foundation Manager, Food and Nutrition, Beth Meertens, "This study provides valuable insights into how this group of vegetables might contribute to the health of our arteries and ultimately our heart. 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 percent of the total burden of heart disease."
"The Heart Foundation recommends that Australians try to include at least five serves of vegetables in their daily diets, along with fruit, seafood, lean meats, dairy and healthy oils found in nuts and seeds. Unfortunately, over 90 percent of Australian adults don't eat this recommended daily intake of vegetables." Meertens added.