Canberra: A new study from Edith Cowan University (ECU) has found that by eating just one cup of nitrate-rich vegetables each day, people can significantly reduce their risk of heart disease.
The study looked at whether people who regularly ate higher amounts of nitrate-rich vegetables, such as leafy greens and beets, had lower blood pressure, and it also looked at whether those same people were less likely to be diagnosed with heart disease many years later.
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, claiming an estimated 17.9 million lives each year.
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Researchers looked at data from more than 50,000 people residing in Denmark and participating in the Danish Diet, Cancer and Health Study over a 23-year period. They found that people who ate the most nitrate-rich vegetables had about 2.5 mmHg lower systolic blood pressure and a 12 to 26 percent lower risk of heart disease.
Lead researcher Dr Catherine Bondonno of ECU’s Nutrition Research Institute said identifying diets to prevent heart disease was a priority.
“Our results showed that by simply eating a cup of raw vegetables (or half a cup of cooked vegetables) rich in nitrates each day, people can significantly reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease,” Dr. Bondonno said.
“The greatest risk reduction was for peripheral arterial disease (26%), a type of heart disease characterized by the narrowing of blood vessels in the legs, however, we also found that people had a lower risk of heart attacks, strokes and heart disease. failure.”
The study found that the optimal amount of nitrate-rich vegetables was one cup a day, and eating more than that didn’t seem to provide additional benefits.
“People don’t need to take supplements to raise their nitrate levels because research has shown that one cup of leafy greens a day is enough to reap heart disease benefits,” Dr. Bondonno.
“We did not see additional benefits in people who ate higher levels of nitrate-rich vegetables.”
Dr. Bondonno said tricks like including a cup of spinach in a banana or berry smoothie could be an easy way to supplement our daily leafy greens.
“Mixing leafy greens is fine, but don’t rush them. Juicing vegetables removes pulp and fiber,” Dr. Bondonno said.
The research adds to the growing evidence linking vegetables in general and leafy greens in particular to improved cardiovascular health and muscle strength. This evidence includes two recent ECU studies exploring cruciferous vegetables and blood vessel health and green leafy vegetables and muscle strength.