While there are plenty of different ways to keep your heart healthy (like all those at-home workouts you’ve been doing!), one of the most important is filling your plate with nutritious foods. And a new study names a few vegetables that are especially important for heart health.

In the study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, researchers found eating a high consumption of cruciferous vegetables—particularly broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and cabbage—can help prevent advanced blood vessel disease in older women. It does this by preventing a build-up of calcium in your blood vessels, which allows your heart to keep the blood circulating throughout your body. That calcium build-up is also the leading cause of heart attack and stroke, so keeping it to a minimum also lessens the risk of those events occurring in older women as well.

“In our previous studies, we identified those with a higher intake of these vegetables had a reduced risk of having a clinical cardiovascular disease event, such as a heart attack or stroke, but we weren’t sure why. Our findings from this new study provides insight into the potential mechanisms involved,” said lead researcher Lauren Blekkenhorst, PhD, in a press release. “We have now found that older women consuming higher amounts of cruciferous vegetables every day have lower odds of having extensive calcification on their aorta.”

And that’s partly thanks to an important vitamin those types of foods contain. “One particular constituent found abundantly in cruciferous vegetables is vitamin K, which may be involved in inhibiting the calcification process that occurs in our blood vessels,” she said. You don’t even need to eat that much broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts in order to reap the benefits for your heart health.

This recipe contains cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, *and* cabbage:



According to Blekkenhorst, those who ate more than 1/4 cup of steamed broccoli or 1/2 cup of raw cabbage a day were 46 percent less likely to experience the dangerous build-up of calcium compared to the participants who ate little to no cruciferous veggies. “That’s not to say the only vegetables we should be eating are broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts,” she said. “We should be eating a wide variety of vegetables every day for overall good health and well-being.”

If you do want to add more broccoli to your diet, there are so many different recipes to try, including spicy glazed popcorn broccoli and broccoli tots. As for Brussels sprouts, you can easily transform them into mouth-watering vegan wings. Even cabbage can be made appetizing by using it to add a little crunch into dishes like fish tacos. And you know all the possibilities when it comes to making cauliflower, like chocolate cauliflower cake and cauli bolognese. However you decide to prepare these veggies, your heart will thank you.

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