Eat your greens for a healthy heart, new research suggests.
Vitamin K, which is found in kale, spinach and broccoli, maintains the size of the vital organ’s left ventricle, a study found, which is responsible for pumping oxygen-rich blood around the body.
Insufficient levels of the vitamin cause the left ventricle to enlarge, the research adds. Previous research reveals large hearts do not pump blood as efficiently as they should, which can result in fatal heart attacks.
The more vitamin K a person has, the less likely they are to develop an enlarged heart, the study found.
Past research suggests vitamin K may activate a protein involved in maintaining heart size.
How the study was carried out
Researchers from Augusta University analyzed 766 healthy teenagers aged between 14 and 18.
The study’s participant’s diet and activity levels were measured over seven days via self-reporting and devices that assess acceleration.
Their heart’s structure and function was investigated via ultrasound scans.
Insufficient vitamin K increases the heart’s size
Results reveal consuming insufficient amounts of vitamin K substantially increases the size of an individual’s left ventricle. The left ventricle is the thickest of the four heart chambers and is responsible for pumping oxygenated blood around the body.
The more vitamin K a person has, the less likely they are to develop thick muscle in their left ventricle.
Previous research reveals enlarged hearts are less able to pump blood around the body, which can result in fatal heart attacks.
Past studies also suggest vitamin K activates a substance, known as the matrix Gla protein, involved in maintaining heart size.
According to the current trial’s researchers, their findings ‘clarify the importance of [vitamin K] intake to cardiovascular development’.
They add the results could ‘lead to [vitamin K] interventions in childhood aimed to improve cardiovascular development and to reduce the subsequent risk of [cardiovascular disease].’