Spinach has many benefits for the body, the most prominent being the ability to improve muscle tone, as well as providing essential vitamins to maintain a strong and healthy body.

Nitrates in spinach improve muscle tone

A new study shows that the cartoon character “Popeye” was right. All these years that he has eaten spinach to make his biceps bigger, he knew something that scientists are only discovering now – this vegetable can make muscles stronger and more efficient , according to a recent study . Research reveals that nitrates, a compound abundant in spinach, is available in some other vegetables as well, and is responsible for increasing the production of two muscle-toning proteins.

How Much Spinach Do You Need?

The encouraging part is that the amount of spinach you need to eat to receive this benefit can be obtained through a normal diet. The amount needed by humans to produce similar results can be obtained from a small bag of spinach, and these components are also present in chard and dark green varieties of lettuce.

This is not the first time that spinach has been credited with a significant health benefit. Before research on the benefits of spinach , it was found that this vegetable can speed recovery from a heart attack and has powerful anti-cancer properties.

In the research, to be published soon in the Journal of Physiology , the mice’s muscle function was assessed after they were given drinking water laced with nitrates for a week. While no improvement was seen in muscles used for moderate exercise and endurance, a clear improvement was seen in muscles used for high intensity strength activities . In other words, eating foods high in nitrates, such as spinach, can aid in weight lifting or running up a steep hill. Plus, it could increase stamina in those efforts .

Why exactly did this benefit occur?

Researchers involved in the study at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm have found that nitrates help increase the production of naturally occurring proteins in the muscles. The release of calcium ions (Ca 2 +), an essential electrolyte for muscle contraction, the increase in protein causes the release of higher levels of calcium ion in the muscles, leading to strong contractions.

Although the study authors do not specify whether to eat raw or cooked spinach, the former method is better because raw vegetables contain important enzymes that are lost in cooking. Eating a spinach salad would be a good way to incorporate nitrates into your diet .

Researchers are very excited about the results and keen to explore the effects on people with muscle weakness and muscle disease, as well as the decline in muscle strength due to aging.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses. He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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