Eating your greens has long been held up as a tenant of good health, and while parents may find it challenging to convince kids to chow down on broccoli and Brussells sprouts, new research shows it’s worth the fight.
Australian scientists have found that eating more cruciferous vegetables could help prevent heart disease.
The new study published in the British Journal of Nutrition shows that higher consumption of this family of vegetables, which includes broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage, is associated with less extensive blood vessel disease in older women.
Blood vessel disease caused by the build-up of fatty, calcium deposits on the inner walls of our blood vessels, such as the aorta.
This build-up of fatty, calcium deposits is the leading cause of having a heart attack or stroke.
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.
Researchers from Edith Cowan University and The University of Western Australia found that older women with a diet comprising more cruciferous vegetables did better when it came to a key sign of blood vessel disease.
“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,” lead researcher Lauren Blekkenhorst said.
Cruiferous vegetables are rich in vitamin K, which could be the secret to their protective qualities.
“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.
Women in this study who consumed more than 45g of cruciferous vegetables every day (e.g. ¼ cup of steamed broccoli or ½ cup of raw cabbage) were 46 per cent less likely to have extensive build-up of calcium on their aorta in comparison to those consuming little to no cruciferous vegetables every day, Dr Blekkenhorst explained.
“That’s not to say the only vegetables we should be eating are broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts,” she said.
“We should be eating a wide variety of vegetables every day for overall good health and wellbeing.”
Heart Foundation food and nutrition spokeswoman Beth Meertens said the new study’s findings were promising.
“This study provides valuable insights into how this group of vegetables might contribute to the health of our arteries and ultimately our heart,” Ms Meertens said.
Australians should 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, Ms Meertens said.
“Unfortunately, over 90 percent of Australian adults don’t eat this recommended daily intake of vegetables.”