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  • Research has shown brussels sprouts good for women's hearts

    Author: AAP

A study of 950 elderly women has shown those who ate plenty of broccoli and brussels sprouts were less likely to be at risk of cardiovascular disease.

Research has shown eating broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and brussels sprouts to be particularly beneficial for the hearts of elderly women.

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A University of Western Australia study of more than 950 women aged 70 and older found those who ate more vegetables had thinner artery walls.

A thickening of the artery walls, known as atherosclerosis, is an underlying cause of cardiovascular disease.

Published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, the study showed cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli proved the most beneficial.


"This is one of only a few studies that have explored the potential impact of different types of vegetables on measures of subclinical atherosclerosis, the underlying cause of cardiovascular disease," said Lauren Blekkenhorst, study lead author and Ph.D. candidate at the University of Western Australia in Crawley.

For the study, researchers distributed food frequency questionnaires to participants. The women noted their vegetable intake in a range from 'never eating vegetables' to 'three or more times per day'.

Vegetable types included cruciferous, allium (onions, garlic, leeks and shallots), yellow/orange/red, leafy green and legumes.

Sonograms were used to measure carotid artery wall thickness and severity of plaque build-up in the carotid artery.

Researchers observed a 0.05 millimetre lower carotid artery wall thickness between high and low intakes of total vegetables.

"That is likely significant, because a 0.1 millimetre decrease in carotid wall thickness is associated with a 10 per cent to 18 per cent decrease in risk of stroke and heart attack," said Ms Blekkenhorst.

In addition, each increase of 10 grams per day in cruciferous vegetable intake was associated with 0.8 per cent lower carotid artery wall thickness, on average.

Other vegetable types did not show the same association.

"After adjusting for lifestyle, cardiovascular disease risk factors (including medication use) as well as other vegetable types and dietary factors, our results continued to show a protective association between cruciferous vegetables and carotid artery wall thickness," Ms Blekkenhorst said.

However, this was only an observational study and a causal relationship cannot be established, she noted.

"Still, dietary guidelines should highlight the importance of increasing consumption of cruciferous vegetables for protection from vascular disease."


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