I am
Broccoli and Brussels sprouts a cut above for blood vessel health
heartfoundation.org.au|Helpline 13 11 12

Broccoli and Brussels sprouts a cut above for blood vessel health

Media Release - 20 August 2020

New research has shown some of our least favourite vegetables could be the most beneficial when it comes to preventing advanced blood vessel disease.

Published in the British Journal of Nutrition the research has found higher consumption of cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage, is associated with less extensive blood vessel disease in older women.

Using data from a cohort 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 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.

Blood vessel disease is a condition that affects our blood vessels (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. This build-up of fatty, calcium deposits is the leading cause of having a heart attack or stroke.

Broccoli and Brussels sprouts a cut above

Lead researcher Dr Lauren Blekkenhorst said there was 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.

“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.”

Eat an extra serve of greens every day

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 percent 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 health and wellbeing.”

Dr Blekkenhorst said it was important to note the study team were very grateful to these Western Australian women, without whom these important findings would not be available for others. While observational in nature this study design is central to progressing human health.

Research welcomed by the Heart Foundation

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

“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.

“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.”

Dr Blekkenhorst and senior author, Associate Professor Joshua Lewis, are both supported in their positions at Edith Cowan University by the National Heart Foundation of Australia.

The team also included researchers from Flinders University, University of Sydney, University of Minnesota, and the Hinda and Arthur Marcus Institute for Aging Research, Hebrew SeniorLife, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School.

‘Cruciferous vegetable intake is inversely associated with extensive abdominal aortic calcification in elderly women: a cross-sectional study’ is available on the British Journal of Nutrition website.

More Australians die of Heart Disease than any other cause.

More Australians die of Heart Disease than any other cause.

More Australians die of Heart Disease than any other cause.

And the heartache lasts a lifetime. But you can help the Heart Foundation fund life-saving research to keep more families together....

Research Directory

Research Directory

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Heart Health Check Toolkit

WEBINAR | Navigating the latest updates on CVD prevention

WEBINAR | Navigating the latest updates on CVD prevention

Heart failure resources for patients

Heart failure resources for patients

Educate your patients on everything they need to know about heart failure and managing their condition ...

Returning to work after a heart attack

Returning to work after a heart attack

Returning to work after a heart attack

Discover how to plan for your return to work....

Snack recipes

Snack recipes

Snack recipes

Search for healthy snack ideas...

Heart Foundation Research Award Recipients

Heart Foundation Research Award Recipients

Explore our research award recipients and projects...

Nutrition Resources for Patients

Nutrition Resources for Patients

Nutrition Resources for Patients

Resources to help people follow a heart healthy eating pattern in their daily lives. ...

Raffles & Lotteries

Raffles & Lotteries

Raffles & Lotteries

Give yourself a chance to win $20,000 while helping the Heart Foundation to raise essential funds for heart research....

Heart Healthy Dinner Plan

Heart Healthy Dinner Plan

Heart Healthy Dinner Plan

Sign up now and discover delicious, easy to follow dinner recipes. Plus shopping lists, tips and other helpful information to make healthy eating easy. ...

Clinical Guidelines

Clinical Guidelines

Clinical Guidelines

Full list of clinical guidlines and references for CVD, heart failure, ACS, hypertension, atrial fibrillation, SCAD and RHD...

Workplace giving for employees

Workplace giving for employees

Workplace giving for employees

Your employer’s workplace giving program makes it easy to setup regular, tax-deductible donations from your pre-tax income. ...

Chicken recipes

Chicken recipes

Chicken recipes

Find heart healthy chicken recipes....

Tahini tofu dressing

Tahini tofu dressing

Tahini tofu dressing

Physical activity after a heart attack

Physical activity after a heart attack

Physical activity after a heart attack

Discover what you need to know about being active after a heart attack....

Mighty mango smoothie

Mighty mango smoothie

Mighty mango smoothie

The Heart Foundation Community

The Heart Foundation Community

The Heart Foundation Community

We need your opinion, experience and skills to help us improve the heart health of all Australians. ...

Heart Week

Heart Week

Heart Week

May 3 – 9, 2021...

WEBINAR | Heart Health Checks: the critical role of the practice nurse

WEBINAR | Heart Health Checks: the critical role of the practice nurse

WEBINAR | Heart Health Checks: the critical role of the practice nurse

This webinar discusses the role of practice nurses in conducting heart health checks...

Keeping your heart healthy

Keeping your heart healthy

Keeping your heart healthy

Keeping your heart healthy is something you can work on every day. ...

Apricot & pecan muffin bars

Apricot & pecan muffin bars

Apricot & pecan muffin bars

30 minutes
Serves 8

Seafood recipes

Seafood recipes

Seafood recipes

Find heart healthy seafood recipes...

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Join our community of fundraisers who are committed to taking action to fight heart disease....

Cardiac Rehabilitation for Health Professionals - Patient Resources

Cardiac Rehabilitation for Health Professionals - Patient Resources

Sorting out your finances after a heart attack

Sorting out your finances after a heart attack

Sorting out your finances after a heart attack

Explore how to manage your financial concerns after a heart attack. ...

Sweet potato breakfast hash

Sweet potato breakfast hash

Sweet potato breakfast hash

15 minutes
Serves 2

Dessert recipes

Dessert recipes

Dessert recipes

Find heart healthy dessert recipes....

Apple & honey nut crumble oats

Apple & honey nut crumble oats

Apple & honey nut crumble oats

10 minutes
Serves Serves 2 (Makes 2 cups)

Atrial Fibrillation (AF) clinical resources

Atrial Fibrillation (AF) clinical resources

Resources and clinical information for health professionals...