These underappreciated veggies may save you from a tough disease

Every night around the dinner table millions of parents struggle to make sure their kids eat a healthy portion of vegetables. Indeed, cruciferous veggies like broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cabbage are dinnertime enemy number one for countless children (and many adults for that matter) due to their less than jaw-dropping natural taste.

Now, a new study is providing yet another reason to make sure you and yours maintain a balanced diet that includes cruciferous veggies (broccoli, kale, etc), regardless of how you may feel about their taste. Researchers from Edith Cowan University conclude that these vegetables are the most beneficial when it comes to promoting strong blood vessel health and avoiding blood vessel disease.

Among a group of studied older women, higher consumption of cruciferous vegetables over a long period was associated with less extensive and milder blood vessel disease diagnoses.

What exactly is blood vessel disease? Generally speaking, blood vessel disease is any condition that affects the veins and arteries, most often causing an unhealthy drop in the flow of circulating blood throughout one’s body. This reduction in blood flow is often due to the buildup of fatty calcium deposits within blood vessels. 

A blood vessel disease diagnosis raises one’s risk of heart attack or stroke considerably. 

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

This study used data on a group of 684 Australian women, originally recruited for another study back in 1998. At that time, those women filled out a survey on their dietary habits. Since then, their health outcomes have been tracked. An analysis of all that long-term information revealed that women whose diets were high in cruciferous vegetables had lower odds of major calcium buildup in their aorta. 

Calcium building within the aorta is considered a strong indicator of structural 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,” Dr. Blekkenhorst adds. “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.”

In comparison to studied women who ate barely any cruciferous veggies, participants who ate a daily serving of more than 45g of cruciferous vegetables were 46% less likely to display extensive calcium buildup within their aorta.

For reference, 45g is about equal to half a cup of raw cabbage or one-fourth cup of steamed broccoli. 

Of course, the study’s authors made it a point to mention that these findings don’t mean we should all forget about other vegetables like carrots, garlic, lettuce, and spinach.

“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,” Dr. Blekkenhorst concludes.

The full study can be found here, published in the British Journal of Nutrition.