Broccoli, Brussels sprouts can boost blood vessel health

Broccoli, Brussels sprouts can boost blood vessel health

Some of the least-popular vegetables can contribute to healthier blood vessels. New research shows broccoli and Brussels sprouts are a cut above other vegetables when it comes to a key measure of blood vessel disease.

Scientists at two universities in Australia have determined that a diet high in so-called cruciferous vegetables reduces the chances of developing calcium in the aorta, the body’s largest artery. Calcium in the aorta is a key indicator of blood vessel disease and a leading cause of heart attacks and strokes.

The researchers studied data from nearly 700 older women who were part of a long-term health survey and found those who ate more cruciferous vegetables were less likely to have a heart attack or stroke. One possible explanation for that is vitamin K, which is abundant in broccoli ad Brussels sprouts.

How much is enough when it comes to broccoli and blood vessel health? A little can do a lot: The women in the study who ate at least one-quarter cup of steamed broccoli or one-half cup of raw cabbage were 46% less likely to have calcium accumulate in their aorta compared with those who ate little or none of the vegetables.

The findings shed more light on how certain groups of vegetables can contribute to heart and arterial health. But eating more broccoli and Brussels sprouts shouldn’t mean cutting back on other fruits and vegetables. For adult women, the recommended daily amount of vegetables is about two-and-a-half cups. For men, it’s three cups of vegetables a day.

The lesson? Don’t judge a veggie by its looks or taste. Broccoli and Brussels sprouts are stars in their own right.

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