We all knew eating greens was good for us – but Edith Cowan University has proven just how lifesaving they are.
A comprehensive new study shows more vegetables in the diet can reduce heart disease and stroke by more than 40 per cent.
Students from the School of Medical and Health Sciences at ECU, analysed the diets of more than 1000 elderly women over 15 years.
They found that the women with high intakes of nitrate, derived from vegetables, had a 40 per cent less chance of dying from a stroke or heart disease.
PhD student Lauren Blekkenhorst tells The Starfish that these findings did not really surprise her.
“Nitrate is a multiple found abundantly in vegetables and increases the availability of a molecule in our blood vessels called nitric oxide, nitric oxide plays a vital role in maintaining blood vessels.”
The research showed that incorporating greens such as spinach and kale into our diet can dramatically bolster our chances of warding off disease.
“Roughly about one cup or 75 grams per day of raw leafy green vegetables is probably enough nitrate to achieve the health benefits,” she says.
“The more fruit and vegetables you have in your diet, the more beneficial your diet will be, but obviously there has to be balance in all areas of the diet.”
Ms Blekkenhorst along with other researchers at ECU wanted to do this study to find out the long-term benefits of nitrate.
“There are other benefits but our research is focussing specifically on nitrate because there has been so much emerging evidence over the past decade,” she says.
This is not the first-time researchers have looked into the health benefits of nitrate;there have been over 30 clinical trials looking at nitrate’s effect on blood pressure.
“Those trials have shown that inorganic nitrate or nitrate rich vegetables can lower blood pressure within hours,” she says.