Eating your greens may help you build muscle strength

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A new study has found that regularly eating leafy greens can boost muscle function, which in turn could help prevent falls and fractures.

The body converts nitrates into nitric oxide, which can open up the blood vessels, improving blood flow and exercise performance.

In the study, participants who ate the most nitrates — which are plentiful in leafy greens like spinach, kale, and lettuce — had 11 percent stronger lower limb strength.

Eating leafy greens can do wonders for muscle strength, according to new research from Edith Cowan University.

The study, which published in the Journal of Nutrition on March 24, found that regularly eating nitrate-rich leafy greens, like spinach and kale, can boost muscle function, which in turn may help prevent falls and fractures.

The body converts nitrates into nitric oxide, which can open up the blood vessels, improving blood flow and exercise performance. Over time, a vegetable-rich diet can improve heart health and cognitive health.

“In general, leafy greens are some of the most nutrient-rich, calorie-light foods on the planet — packing a punch with numerous vitamins and minerals,” said Dr. Casey Kelley, a family medicine physician and the founder and medical director of Case Integrative Health. The researchers evaluated health data from 3,759 Australians over a 12-year period.

Participants who ate the most nitrates — which are plentiful in leafy greens like spinach, kale, and lettuce — had 11 percent stronger lower limb strength.

Their walking speed was approximately 4 percent faster compared with participants who ate less leafy greens. The researchers also surveyed the participants’ physical activity.

They found that the vegetables boosted muscle strength regardless of whether the participants exercised.

Leafy greens are packed with nitrates, which the body converts into nitric oxide. “Nitric oxide relaxes the blood vessels and causes them to widen.

This allows for greater delivery of oxygen to the muscles,” said Dr. Niket Sonpal, an internist and gastroenterologist based in New York City.

Our muscles require more oxygen when we exercise. Sonpal said that oxygen is essential “for creating fuel while working out and is also important for muscle recovery.”

Increased oxygen flow could allow our muscles to perform more optimallyTrusted Source, which may ultimately help increase muscle strength.