Women who ate more than 1.5oz of “cruciferous veg” every day were 46 percent less likely to have extensive build-up of calcium on their aorta, the main vessel carrying blood away from the heart.
Cruciferous veg is a family of leafy plants that also includes broccoli, cauliflower and kale.
The international group of experts who carried out the study think that vitamin K in the vegetables could be key.
Lead researcher Dr Lauren Blekkenhorst, from Edith Cowan University in Australia, said: “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 study provide insight into the potential mechanisms involved.
“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.
“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.”
Disease in the blood vessels is where fatty calcium deposits build up on the inner walls, reducing the flow of blood around the body.