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Published on August 13, 2018

Vascular Veggies: Cruciferous Vegetables and Carotid Artery Health 

Vascular Veggies

“Eat your broccoli” is great advice for adults and kids alike.Eating a variety of vegetables can improve many aspects of your health, from your weight to your immune system to your heart. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association reveals a possible benefit of eating vegetables from a specific group – incorporating more cruciferous vegetables (like your broccoli) into your diet can help your carotid arteries stay healthy.

Carotid arteries, which are found in your neck, have the crucial job of carrying blood to your brain. When your carotid artery walls are a normal healthy size, your blood can flow regularly. Thickened artery walls, on the other hand, may restrict blood flow and could indicate plaque buildup. Thicker artery walls might put you at higher risk for serious health complications such as stroke.

Previous research has linked a diet rich in fruits and vegetables to a lower risk of heart disease and stroke. In this study, scientists looked at the amount of vegetables eaten daily by about 1,000 women aged 70 years and older. Women who ate three or more servings of vegetables a day had less artery wall thickening than those who ate two servings or less. 

In addition, this study looked at the specific kinds of vegetables the women ate. The type of vegetables that best benefited carotid artery wall health in this study? Cruciferous vegetables. One study linking cruciferous vegetables and carotid artery health isn’t conclusive. It does add even more support to the recommendation to eat all types of fruits and vegetables to help decrease heart disease and stroke risk.

Cruciferous vegetables are rich in nutrients like vitamins C, E and K. They are a great source of many minerals and fiber too. Eating plenty of these vegetables can benefit both your carotid arteries and your overall health. Here are some cruciferous vegetables for you to try:

  • Arugula
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Collard greens
  • Kale
  • Mustard greens
  • Radishes
  • Turnips
  • Watercress

Looking for a fun way to try some cruciferous vegetables? Check out this recipe for Buffalo Baked Cauliflower.

Buffalo Baked Cauliflower

Cook Time: 25 minutes
Yield: 6 servings


1 head of cauliflower, cut into bite-size florets
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons Buffalo hot sauce (To eliminate most of the sodium, replace hot sauce with a blend of 2 tsp cayenne pepper, 1 tsp paprika, 1 tsp garlic powder and 2 tbs white vinegar.)


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place the florets on a baking sheet and sprinkle with pepper.
  3. Roast until tender-crisp, about 20 to 25 minutes, turning once.
  4. Remove from the oven and toss with the hot sauce while still warm.

Nutrition Facts:

SODIUM 172 mg

Thanks to our partners at Sodexo and our registered dietitians for making mindful eating so delicious!

About the Author

Colleen Russell, RD,LDN,CDE is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator ay the Nutrition and Diabetes Education Services