Cruciferous and Total Vegetable Intakes Are Inversely Associated With Subclinical Atherosclerosis in Older Adult Women

J Am Heart Assoc. 2018 Apr 4;7(8):e008391. doi: 10.1161/JAHA.117.008391.


Background: Dietary patterns rich in fruits and vegetables are considered to reduce atherosclerotic disease presentation and are reported to be inversely associated with subclinical measures of atherosclerosis, such as carotid artery intima-media thickness (IMT) and plaque. However, the effect of vegetable intake alone, and relationships to specific types of vegetables containing different phytochemical profiles, is important. The aim of this study was to investigate the associations of total vegetable intake and specific vegetables grouped according to phytochemical constituents with common carotid artery IMT (CCA-IMT) and carotid plaque severity in a cohort of older adult women (aged ≥70 years).

Methods and results: Total vegetable intake was calculated at baseline (1998) using a validated food frequency questionnaire. Vegetable types included cruciferous, allium, yellow/orange/red, leafy green, and legumes. In 2001, CCA-IMT (n=954) and carotid focal plaque (n=968) were assessed using high-resolution B-mode carotid ultrasonography. Mean (SD) total vegetable intake was 199.9 (78.0) g/d. Women consuming ≥3 servings of vegetables each day had ≈4.6% to 5.0% lower mean CCA-IMT (P=0.014) and maximum CCA-IMT (P=0.004) compared with participants consuming <2 servings of vegetables. For each 10 g/d higher in cruciferous vegetable intake, there was an associated 0.006 mm (0.8%) lower mean CCA-IMT (P<0.01) and 0.007 mm (0.8%) lower maximum CCA-IMT (P<0.01). Other vegetable types were not associated with CCA-IMT (P>0.05). No associations were observed between vegetables and plaque severity (P>0.05).

Conclusions: Increasing vegetables in the diet with a focus on consuming cruciferous vegetables may have benefits for the prevention of subclinical atherosclerosis in older adult women.

Clinical trial registration: URL: Unique identifier: ACTRN12615000750583.

Keywords: atherosclerosis; carotid intima‐media thickness; carotid plaque; cruciferous; vegetables.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Carotid Artery Diseases / diagnosis
  • Carotid Artery Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Carotid Artery, Common / diagnostic imaging*
  • Carotid Intima-Media Thickness
  • Diet*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Nutritive Value
  • Plaque, Atherosclerotic / diagnosis
  • Plaque, Atherosclerotic / prevention & control*
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Vegetables*

Associated data

  • ANZCTR/ACTRN12615000750583