Nitrates, which are abundant in leafy greens, are converted in the body into nitric oxide, which promotes vasodilation, increases oxygen in the blood and prevents blood clots. The authors of a new study published in the Journal of Nutrition assessed the impact of consuming foods high in nitrite and muscle function.
Scientists analyzed data on the health and dietary habits of more than 3,700 Australians who participated in a national study of diabetes, obesity and lifestyle for 12 years. Those who ate the most nitrate foods had 11% higher muscle strength in the lower extremities compared to those who added less leafy greens to their diets. This affects, in particular, the walking speed, which in spinach and Chinese cabbage lovers was 4% higher compared to other volunteers.
The authors of the study also assessed the physical activity of all participants and found that leafy greens increased muscle strength regardless of whether those who consume them regularly played sports. According to scientists, nitric oxide “relaxes” and dilates blood vessels, effectively delivering oxygen to muscle tissue.
“It is enough to consume one cup of leafy greens a day to obtain great health benefits for the musculoskeletal system and cardiovascular system,” – the scientists commented on the results of the study.
They also noted that nitrate-rich foods are much healthier than nitrate supplements. In addition, greens contain other vitamins and minerals necessary for health.