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Strong correlation between spinach and muscle boost demonstrated

February 4th, 2011 No comments

We all know the famous cartoons with Popeye the Sailor Man, right? Each and every time he was in trouble he had a secret weapon to boost his strength – spinach! You might say those are only cartoons, however The Daily Telegraph recently reported that those cartoons were not lying at all when it comes to spinach and by eating 300g of spinach the amount of oxygen needed to give strength to muscles went down to 5% when doing daily exercises.

This study was not based solely on spinach but on the fantastic properties that nitrate (a spinach compound) has when taken as supplement. 14 volunteers were tested and all of them needed less oxygen when doing the exercises, after taking the nitrate supplement for three days. One thing has been proven thus: nitrates have a beneficial effect, however we do not know for sure whether this is on long or short term. Lesson that should be learned from this study is that vegetables and fruits contain important nutrients that should definitely be a part of our daily diets.

The study was published in Cell Metabolism – a scientific journal – and took place in Sweden, at Karolinska Institutet and it was not solely based on spinach properties but on nitrated ones, nitrates that can be found in tea, leafy veggies and some meats. The main purpose of this study was to demonstrate that mitochondrial function is improved on people that consume nitrate supplements.

How was the study made? 14 non-smokers volunteers participated and some of them received nitrate supplements while other received placebo supplements for three days. After three days they did the test than a 6-day break period followed and they repeated the process afterwards. After the test ended, the results were quite concludent: those taking nitrate supplements were using less oxygen to produce energy while the ones with placebo pills remained at the same level.

Researchers’ conclusion was that “nitrates have a profound effect on mitochondrial function” and “these findings may have implications for exercise physiology – and lifestyle-related disorders that involve dysfunctional mitochondria”.