Now, a new study conducted by researchers from Edith Cowan University has found that vegetables also play a key role in consumers’ long-term muscle function. According to their findings, green leafy vegetables, which contain large quantities of nitrates, can lead to stronger muscles and improved physical abilities.
“Our study shows that diets high in nitrate-rich vegetables may bolster your muscle strength independently of any physical activity,” said researcher Dr. Marc Sim. “Nevertheless, to optimise muscle function we propose that a balanced diet rich in green leafy vegetables in combination with regular exercise, including weight training, is ideal.”
Getting your greens in
For the study, the researchers analyzed results from more than 3,700 participants involved in Melbourne’s Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute AusDiab study. Experts followed the participants’ diets and health outcomes for over a decade and compared how consumption of leafy green vegetables impacted their muscle capacity.
The researchers learned that participants who ate the most nitrate-rich diets had the best physical outcomes -- particularly when looking at lower body strength. The study showed that consuming higher amounts of leafy green vegetables led to faster walking speeds and greater muscle function overall.
“We should eat a variety of vegetables every day, with at least one of those servings being leafy greens to gain a range of positive health benefits for the musculoskeletal system and cardiovascular system,” said Dr. Sim.
These findings are especially important for older consumers who may be more susceptible to falls. The researchers say eating more green vegetables is a good way for seniors to reduce the chances of these accidents happening.