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How eating broccoli is linked to heart health

New research sheds light on how cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, are good for heart health and preventing cardiovascular disease.

So, is broccoli good for your heart?

Previous studies have shown that a high intake of cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts, is associated with a decreased thickness of the carotid-artery blood vessel, and therefore a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and death.

A recent study by researchers in Australia and the United States, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, further investigates the benefit between cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, and heart health.

Selected participants were from a pool of older women originally recruited to a randomized controlled trial studying calcium supplementation and osteoporotic fractures.

Women taking medications affecting bone metabolism or with a medical history of cardiovascular-related diseases were excluded.

The women’s diets were self-documented in a questionnaire that measured usual food intake, including portion sizes.

The women were imaged to assess for AAC (abdominal aortic calcification), the calcification of the aortic blood vessel in the abdomen.

Broccoli linked with reduced calcium build-up in the heart

The researchers found that eating more cruciferous vegetables was associated with a lower risk of having extensive abdominal aortic calcification, after adjustment for risk factors.

According to the study, women who ate more than 45 grams of cruciferous vegetables daily (e.g. half a cup of steamed broccoli) had 46% less chance of having extensive calcium build-up in their aortic blood vessels compared to women who ate no or very little cruciferous vegetables daily.

Not only does the consumption of cruciferous vegetables reduce the thickening of blood vessel walls as shown in previous research, this study demonstrates that cruciferous vegetables play a role in regulating the build-up of calcium in the blood vessels to prevent the calcification that contributes to cardiovascular disease.

The cardiovascular benefits may be a result of one or more of the many diverse bioactive compounds found in cruciferous vegetables, such as flavonols, pectin, and vitamin K.

Why this is important

This study shows the importance of a healthy diet high in vegetables such as broccoli and the effects it can have on heart health, and why broccoli is good for your heart.

It also suggests potential new areas for further research to better understand the mechanisms behind the protective effects of cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, on heart health.

References:

Blekkenhorst, L. C., Sim, M., Radavelli-Bagatini, S., Bondonno, N. P., Bondonno, C. P., Devine, A., . . . Lewis, J. R. (2020). Cruciferous vegetable intake is inversely associated with extensive abdominal aortic calcification in elderly women: A cross-sectional study. British Journal of Nutrition, 1-9. doi:10.1017/s0007114520002706

Broccoli and Brussels sprouts a cut above for blood vessel health. (2020, August 20). Retrieved August 25, 2020, from https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-08/ecu-bab081920.php

Image by ImageParty from Pixabay 

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Maggie Leung PharmD
Maggie Leung PharmD
Maggie is a registered pharmacist and has a PharmD from the University of Toronto. She currently works in the pharmacy informatics field as a clinician applications consultant. In her role, she supports the integration and optimization of technology in healthcare. She enjoys learning about the latest in scientific research and sharing that knowledge through her writing for Medical News Bulletin. Maggie is a big dog lover and enjoys traveling and spending time with her friends and family.
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