01.10.2021 Nutrition

Broccoli cuts fall risk in elderly

Brussels sprouts and broccoli linked with lower fall risk in elderly

The health benefits of broccoli and cabbage are well known but a surprising new finding shows they can help older people avoid a fall.

Just half a cup of broccoli or other cruciferous vegetables a day can help avoid hospitalisation after a fall.

Researchers from Edith Cowan University (ECU) studied the diets of a group of older Western Australian women above the age of 70 and tracked falls over 15 years.

They found that those who ate at least one serve of cruciferous vegetables – such as Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage or broccoli – each day had a significantly lower risk of having a fall that required hospitalisation.

Falls raise health costs

Lead researcher Dr Marc Sim said suffering an injurious fall can have a significant impact on an individual’s quality of life.

“On top of the physical impact, suffering a fall has been linked to a reduced participation in social and physical activities due to a fear of falling again,” Dr Sim said.

“Additionally, falls are the leading cause of injury-related hospitalisations in people aged over 65, which is projected to cost the health system approximately $789 million per year by 2021.”

Dr Sim said this is why it was vital to investigate new ways to prevent people from falling.

“We wanted to find out what factors could help prevent people from falling to allow them to maintain their quality of life well into old age,” he said.

Cruciferous vegetables best of a good bunch

The research found that higher overall vegetable consumption was associated with a lower risk of falls requiring hospitalisation.

And eating cruciferous vegetables provided the greatest benefit.

“We also found that higher overall vegetable consumption was associated with better muscle strength and physical function in our participants, which we suspect is one of the ways they reduce the risk of falling,” Dr Sim said.

“What we are now interested in investigating further is why cruciferous vegetables in particular seem to be so good at preventing these falls.”