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   Dec 04

Now there’s no excuse not to eat your greens: Leafy vegetables contain chemical nitrate that improves heart health and combats diabetes

Spinach, broccoli, cabbage, kale and lettuce have the healthy ingredients

Can also thin blood and cut the risk of clots, stroke and even heart attacks

Those suffering cardiovascular diseases can improve their quality of life

Source of nitrates are cheap, but some don’t like vegetables: researcher

Researchers at the Universities of Cambridge and Southampton claim that Spinach, broccoli, cabbage, kale and lettuce contain the beneficial ingredient which can reach out to all parts of the body

Mother was right – eating your greens really can improve your health.

Spinach, broccoli, cabbage, kale and even lettuce contain the beneficial chemical nitrate which can reach all parts of the body, claim British researchers.

In three independent studies they found leafy green vegetables can thin the blood, ensuring oxygen is delivered efficiently. around the body and cutting the risk of dangerous clots, stroke and heart attacks.

Nitrate, which is also found in beetroot, also sets off a chain reaction that widens and opens blood vessels and converts bad white fat cells into good brown, fat-burning cells, which can combat obesity and type 2 diabetes.

The findings suggest people may be able to alter the thickness of their blood through simple changes in their diet, which could be important for patients with cardiovascular diseases.

Sufferers may be able to improve their quality of life through simply introducing more nitrate rich vegetables into their diet.

The studies from the Universities of Cambridge and Southampton, part-funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF), were published yesterday.

Researcher Dr Tom Ashmore, said ‘The best thing about nitrate is that it is not expensive, treatment is not invasive and not much is needed to observe a significant effect.

‘The only downfall is some people don’t like vegetables.’

Dr Ashmore led a study showing how eating more nitrate rich vegetables like spinach, and lettuce such as rocket and iceberg, can reduce the production of a hormone, called erythropoietin, made by the kidneys and liver.

This hormone determines production of red blood cells, which increase oxygen levels and the thickness of blood.

However, an over-supply of cells can harm those suffering from altitude sickness and heart patients, who may actually have oxygen starvation caused by the blood being too thick to penetrate vital organs.

The new study shows eating more green vegetables could alleviate some of the debilitating symptoms of damaged hearts, by cutting erythropoietin levels and reducing the production of red blood cells.

The study was published in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.

Dr Andrew Murray from Cambridge University, who co-led the study, said ‘Here we show that nitrate from the diet can help regulate the delivery of oxygen to cells and tissues and its use, matching oxygen supply and demand.

‘This ensures cells and tissues in the body have enough oxygen to function without needing to over produce red blood cells, which can make the blood too thick and compromise health.

Many children don’t like them, but eating more green vegetables could hesome of the debilitating symptoms of damaged hearts, by cutting erythropoietin levels and reducing the production of red blood cells

‘Lowering the blood’s thickness without compromising oxygen delivery may also help prevent blood clots, reducing the risk of a stroke or heart attack.’

Professor Martin Feelisch, from Southampton University of Southampton, said ‘These findings suggest simple dietary changes may offer treatments for people suffering from heart and blood vessel diseases that cause too many red blood cells to be produced.

‘It is also exciting as it may have broader implications in sport science, and could aid recovery of patients in intensive care by helping us understand how oxygen can be delivered to our cells more efficiently.’

A second study shows eating a few more leafy greens or beetroot, could protect vital proteins in heart cells

Professor Jeremy Pearson, Associate Medical Director at the BHF, said ‘It has long been thought that nitrate-rich vegetables have cardiovascular benefits.

‘This research suggests that a previously unsuspected mechanism by which nitrate controls red blood cell production is important. These findings add to the evidence that dietary nitrate promotes cardiovascular health.’

A second study in The Journal of Physiology, shows that consuming nitrate by eating a few more leafy greens or beetroot, could protect vital proteins in heart cells and increase a compound that causes blood vessels to widen, allowing the heart to pump more efficiently.

In a third study, published in Diabetes, the researchers identified nitrate’s ability to stimulate conversion of white, or bad, fat cells into beige cells in a process called browning.

Beige cells are more similar to ‘good’ brown fat cells and burn fat to produce heat, suggesting that simple dietary changes could reduce the number of bad white fat cells we have, reducing the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Dr Murray, who worked on all three studies, said ‘These studies represent three further ways in which simple changes in the diet can modify people’s risk of type 2 diabetes and obesity as well as potentially alleviating symptoms of existing cardiovascular conditions to achieve an overall healthier life.’

Source: Daily Mail

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