“Research has shown eating broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and brussels sprouts to be particularly beneficial for the hearts of elderly women,” The Guardian reports.
Researchers investigating the benefit of a vegetable diet in Australia found that women who consumed the highest number of vegetables displayed less thickening of the walls of a vessel that supplies blood to the brain. The blood vessel is known as the common carotid artery and it has been linked to incidences of stroke, as a blockage in the artery prevents blood getting to the brain.
Might it have been a case of merely the consumption of vegetables? After all, we know that vegetables are good for you. Did the consumption of broccoli specifically have health benefits?
When looking at specific types of vegetables, researchers in Australia found that cruciferous vegetables seemed to provide the most benefits. These are a range of vegetables that belong to the same cabbage “family” (Brassicaceae) and include broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and kale.
While previous research has linked a healthy diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables to lower risk of heart attacks and stroke, this study looks at the potential effect of specific types of vegetables.
The study could not merely narrow down the benefits solely to the consumption of vegetables, particularly broccoli But after variances in other factors was taken care of, the results held true after taking account of other factors such as women’s lifestyle, medical history and other components of their diet.
Cruciferous vegetables are good for you and the evidence suggests that older women in particular should make an effort to include them in their diet.
The researchers who carried out the study came from Edith Cowan University, the University of Western Australia, Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Flinders University and Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, all in Australia. The study was funded by Healthway Western Australian Health Promotion Foundation and the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia. It was published in the peer-reviewed Journal of the American Heart Association, and is available to read free online.
Surprisingly enough, the Mail Online reported the study results accurately. Nevertheless, as is often the case, did not make it clear that this type of study cannot prove that one factor (cruciferous vegetables) is a direct cause of another (carotid artery wall thickness).
The Guardian headline and introduction said the study showed vegetables provided “heart benefits”, although thickening of the carotid artery is more closely linked to risk of stroke.