Their findings, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, suggest that just half a cup of broccoli a day could prevent older people from falling and help them to maintain their quality of life well into old age.
This is because of a link between higher consumption of cruciferous vegetables and better muscle strength and physical function in the participants.
“We suspect this is one of the ways they reduce the risk of falling,” said lead researcher Marc Sim.
The team from Edith Cowan’s School of Medical and Health Sciences studied the diets of a group of older Western Australian women above the age of 70 and tracked falls over 15 years.
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.
The region's leading probiotic and microbiome event — Probiota Asia — will get underway in Singapore this month with a stellar line-up of speakers, including the likes of Blackmores, Danone, Herbalife and Life-Space, set to take to the stage.
As members of the brassica family, cruciferous veggies are rich in vitamins C and K—with broccoli particular strong in this respect with its higher nutrient content. Broccoli also provides more minerals and fibre, and also contains vitamin A which is not found in cauliflower.
A cup of cooked broccoli offers as much vitamin C as an orange, and is a good source of beta-carotene. It also contains vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc, provides fibre and is low in calories.
“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,” said Dr Sim.
“What we are now interested in investigating further is why cruciferous vegetables in particular seem to be so good at preventing these falls.”
Falls are the leading cause of injury-related hospitalisation in Australia among people aged over 65. Official statistics suggest that the cost to the health system will be worth some A$789m per year by 2021.
“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 added.
Dr Sim said this is why it was vital to investigate new ways to prevent people from falling.
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, meaning a solution to reducing the cost of Australia’s three-quarter-billion-dollar aged care system is priced at around A$2.50 per kilo.