Strong and functional muscles are imperative to healthy aging. Leafy greens may help you get there.
A new study has found that diets high in nitrate-rich leafy greens may promote muscle strength and functionality independent of physical activity.
That’s not to say that exercise or protein won’t help build muscle, but leafy greens can add another layer.
The study, conducted by researchers at the Institute for Nutrition Research at Edith Cowan University in Perth, Australia, showed that people with the highest intake of dietary nitrates, mainly from vegetables, had 11% stronger lower limb strength than those who got the least.
Lower limb strength helps you stay balanced, agile, and mobile.
Aside from strength, nitrate intake was also associated with better muscle function. People who ate the most had faster walking speeds than those who didn’t eat very much.
Nitrates may help open up blood vessels to supply nutrients to muscles better. Past research has associated nitrate intake with athletic performance.
Leafy greens like lettuce, spinach, kale, and beetroot were noted to offer the greatest benefits among participants.
Adding a salad at least once per day to your diet is a great way to boost nitrate intake and potentially bolster your muscle strength and functionality. Along with leafy greens, increasing protein and activity levels can also promote healthy muscles.
Of course, the benefits of leafy greens extend far beyond your muscles. They are nutrient-dense and are closely associated with better heart health, lower weight, less inflammation, and a lower risk for a host of chronic conditions, including heart disease, type-2 diabetes, and dementia.
You can include more leafy greens by eating salad, adding them to pasta, shepherd’s pie, beef burgers, or making kale chips. Finding ways to get creative can help boost intake and introduce some exciting new flavors into your life.