Cruciferous Vegetables may Lower Risk for Heart Attacks and Stroke

Cabbage Plants (USDA)

Vegetables can Help to Prevent Atherosclerosis

A study published April 4, 2018, in the Journal of the American Heart Association showed that eating vegetables daily, especially those in the cruciferous or allium vegetable families resulted in lower mortality from atherosclerotic vascular disease (ASVD). ASVD is a major cause of heart attacks and strokes.

Cruciferous and Allium Vegetables Contain Vascular and Heart Protective Organosulfur Compounds

Cruciferous vegetables also called Brassicae/Cruciferae vegetables include broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts.

Allium vegetables include onions, garlic and leeks.

Both the allium and the cruciferous families of vegetables are good sources for organosulfur compounds that are vascular and heart protective.

Leafy Green Vegetables Contain Nitrate

Leafy green vegetables like spinach, lettuce and celery are rich in nitrate which has been shown to lower blood pressure. High blood pressure is another risk factor for heart attacks and strokes.

Study Included Healthy Senior Women around Age 75

The study included 968 Australian senior women around the age of 75 who did not have a previous history of diabetes or atherosclerotic vascular disease. These senior women had previously been enrolled in a five-year study to show if calcium supplementation and Vitamin D could protect bones from osteoporotic fractures, CAIFOS (Calcium Intake Fracture Outcome Study).

Measuring Carotid Artery for Atherosclerosis

Measuring the carotid artery for the buildup of carotid plaque was by high‐resolution B‐mode carotid ultrasonography to check for atherosclerosis. Subclinical measures of atherosclerosis include common carotid artery intima‐media thickness (CCA‐IMT) and carotid atherosclerotic plaques, both of which have been shown to forecast heart attacks and stroke.

Three Daily Servings of Vegetables Showed Less Buildup of Plaque

Women who ate three servings of vegetables every day such as yellow/orange/red (tomato, pepper, beet, carrot, and pumpkin), leafy green (lettuce, celery and spinach),  legumes (peas, green beans, bean sprouts, alfalfa sprouts, baked beans, soy beans, soy bean curd) and boiled potatoes (excluding fried or roasted potato chips) had thinner carotid arteries, which showed less buildup of the plaque than women who did not eat vegetables on a daily basis.

However, senior women who ate cruciferous or allium vegetables every day had even less buildup of plaque than those who ate other vegetables.

Further Research also Needed on Men and Younger People

The researchers recommend further testing, as they did not have access to the latest more sophisticated methods of high ultrasound scanning for atherosclerotic plaque. Also, they say that similar research must also be done with men and with younger people.


The conclusion of the study was that eating more vegetables by senior women  on a daily basis, especially those in the cruciferous family like broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower may prevent the buildup of plaque that leads to subclinical atherosclerosis, which in turn is associated with heart attacks and strokes. Similar research must also be done on senior men and younger people to see if the vascular protective effect of cruciferous vegetables also applies to them.

At any rate, those who are involved in senior health should make sure to include lots of vegetables in their diets, especially those in the allium and cruciferous families.

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