Eating a lot of vegetables-especially the cruciferous type-is associated with healthier carotid arteries among older women compared with those who eat fewer vegetables, according to a report in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
In the observational study, nearly 1,000 Australian women ages 70 and older were asked to record their daily vegetable intake. Three years later, researchers used sonograms to measure the thickness of the walls of the women’s carotid arteries, the blood vessels in the neck that supply blood to the brain. Thickened artery walls are a sign of atherosclerosis-a buildup of fat deposits and fibrous tissue that can narrow the arteries and reduce blood flow.
Women who ate three or more servings of vegetables a day had thinner artery walls, by 0.05 millimeters, than women who ate less than two servings of vegetables. A 0.1-millimeter decrease is associated with a 10 to 18 percent decrease in stroke and heart attack risk. A high intake of cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts) was associated with the best results.
The study was observational, so it can’t prove that eating lots of vegetables directly prevents thickening of carotid artery walls-nor can it prove that not eating vegetables will lead to buildup of plaque in the carotid arteries. Still, such research provides even more good reason not to skimp on your veggies.