Recommending fruits and vegetables for good health is such a cliché that its equivalent to saying the Sun rises in the East. When such are the terms of the world how is it going to matter when I say that eating vegetables is good for artery health? It sounds extremely rudimentary. The catch here is that surpassing all vegetables is one subsect of these veggies that has won the medal.
Accumulation of plaque (fatty deposit made of cholesterol, fat molecules, calcium and other compounds) in the arteries cause the blood vessels to thicken and the arteries to narrow and harden. Such clogging of arteries by plaque is termed as atherosclerosis. This obstructs oxygen-rich blood from flowing through arteries in different parts of the body paving way for harmful diseases such as heart disease and stroke and sometimes even death.
RDNs and physicians have always highlighted the advantages of consuming a diet rich in fruits and vegetables such as the Mediterranean diet, vegetarian diet and DASH diet to minimize thickening of the carotid artery walls and even studies prove their benefits but there are little or no proofs/studies that probe on the specific type of vegetables that prevent blocking of arteries. This kindled the curiosity of a group of researchers who analyzed data of more than 900 women aged 70 years and above. The study participants were asked to fill a questionnaire which included details about consuming vegetables. They were asked to report their frequency of vegetable consumption on a 10-point scale that varied from ‘never’ to ‘three times or more per day’. These women also mentioned the vegetables they ate from a list of 24 veggies. This included veggies such as yellow, orange and red variants, legumes, green leafy vegetables, cruciferous vegetables and alliums too. After the study period all these women were measured on the thickness of the carotid artery and results showed that women who consumed most vegetables had carotid artery walls that were .047 millimeter thinner than women who consumed the least vegetables (Compared to women who ate less than three servings of vegetables women who consumed at least three servings of vegetables had carotid artery walls that were about 0.036 millimeter and maximum artery thickness was as lower as 0.047 millimeter).
While the number sounds trivial researchers believe that this difference can cause a significant change in the risk of heart disease. For every .1-millimeter decrease in carotid wall thickness the risk of stroke and heart attack reduced by 10-18%. Also, for every 10 additional grams of cruciferous vegetables consumed daily, participants witnessed a 0.8% reduction in average thickness of carotid arteries. But whether eating more crucifers can reduce risk to a greater extent remains a mystery to be solved.
Every Vegetable No Less or Better than the Rest
The study proves a great message, but this does not mean that all other vegetables are less-important. Each vegetable has its own unique qualities and nutrients that are essential for a well-balanced diet and good health. The only suggestion here is to make it a point to include a serving of cruciferous vegetables among all other vegetables to protect heart health. Cruciferous vegetables include cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts, radish, turnip, watercress and others and these veggies have a lot many beneficial properties to their kitty. Complete list of their advantages and an exhaustive list of the cruciferous vegetables are available at your disposal at www.firsteatright.com. Every individual is advised to consume at least five servings of vegetables and fruits daily for optimal health but most of us don’t do. Start developing a liking towards these veggies and appreciating their benefits for a healthier body.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.