Falls prevention: another reason not to hate Brussels sprouts

A diet high in a wide range of vegetables, especially broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and cabbage, may help older people avoid hospitalisation from falls, Australian research has found.

A diet high in a wide range of vegetables, especially broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and cabbage, may help older people avoid hospitalisation from falls, Australian research has found.

Researcher Marc Sim, from Edith Cowan University, recruited 1,500 West Australian women with a minimum age of 70. The cohort filled out a food questionnaire and were tracked for serious falls requiring hospitalisation 14.5 years between 1998-2013.

Dr Marc Sim
Dr Marc Sim

His study found that those who ate the widest variety of vegetables a day had a significantly lower risk of having a fall that required hospitalisation.

Over the 14.5 years 568 of the cohort had a serious fall. Of these, 206 ate a limited range of vegetables, 177 had a moderate range and 185 consumed a high diversity of vegetables.

High vegetable diversity, or more than five types a day, was associated with a 23 per cent hazard reduction for injurious falls compared to low vegetable diversity, or fewer than three types a day.

“Increasing vegetable diversity especially in older women with low vegetable intake may be an effective way to reduce injurious fall and fracture risk,” the study concluded.

The research also looked at various vegetable groups including, cruciferous, allium (onions, garlic, shallots, leeks and chives), orange/yellow/red, leafy greens and legumes.

Eating at least one serve of cruciferous vegetables a day, such as Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage or broccoli, seemed to have the greatest benefit, Dr Sim told Community Care Review.

Dr Sim said while meriting further study, the results weren’t entirely surprising, as this group of vegetables were high in vitamins and minerals and had a habit of “popping up” in the literature relation to other benefits including cancer prevention and vascular health.

Cruciferous vegetables are king

“When we looked at five different types of vegetables … the only one that was associated with a lower risk of falls was the cruciferous vegetables,” he said.

“It wasn’t a surprise in the sense that these vegetables seem to pop up in the literature as a kind of ‘super food’. So for us, for it to pop up was obviously a surprise but if any one of the five of them was to pop up it would probably be cruciferous.

“The message from this is eat at least five serves of vegetables a day, and make sure include at least one serve of cruciferous vegetables

The benefits in relation to falls prevention were probably linked to the effects cruciferous vegetables on muscle strength and pathways, he said.

“These findings could have implications for nutritional guidelines promoted by public health organizations to reduce the risk of falls and/or fractures in older community-dwelling women.

“What we are now interested in investigating further is why cruciferous vegetables in particular seem to be so good at preventing these falls,” Dr Sim said. The research will also investigate which of the cruciferous group conferred the most benefit.

You can find the study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, here.

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Tags: cruciferous, falls, falls-prevention, marc-sim, research, vegetables,

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