Nitrate provides several health benefits, including blood pressure reduction and vessel protective effects.
The foods highest in nitrate include beetroots and leafy greens such as kale, arugula, chard, and spinach. Others include parsley, Chinese cabbage, leeks, celery, radishes, and turnips.
In a recent study from New Edith Cowan University, scientists found that by eating just one cup of nitrate-rich vegetables each day people can strongly reduce their risk of heart disease.
They tested whether people who regularly ate higher quantities of nitrate-rich vegetables had lower blood pressure, and also examined whether these same people were less likely to be diagnosed with heart disease many years later.
Cardiovascular diseases are the number one cause of death globally, taking around 17.9 million lives each year.
In the study, the team examined data from over 50,000 people residing in Denmark taking part in the Danish Diet, Cancer, and Health Study over a 23-year period.
They found that people who consumed the most nitrate-rich vegetables had about a 2.5 mmHg lower systolic blood pressure and between 12 to 26 percent lower risk of heart disease.
The greatest reduction in risk was for peripheral artery disease (26%), a type of heart disease characterized by the narrowing of blood vessels of the legs, however, they also found people had a lower risk of heart attacks, strokes and heart failure.
The results showed that by simply eating one cup of raw (or half a cup of cooked) nitrate-rich vegetables each day, people may be able to strongly reduce their risk of heart disease.
The team says people don’t need to be taking supplements to boost their nitrate levels because the study showed that one cup of leafy green vegetables each day is enough to reap the benefits for heart disease.
They did not see further benefits in people who ate higher levels of nitrate-rich vegetables.
The team says hacks such as including a cup of spinach in a banana or berry smoothie might be an easy way to top up our daily leafy greens.
If you care about heart health, please read studies about the best time to take vitamins to prevent heart disease, and calcium supplements could harm your heart health.
For more information about nutrition, please see recent studies about red meat linked to higher death risks in heart disease and stroke, and results showing how drinking milk affects risks of heart disease and cancer.
The study was conducted by Dr. Catherine Bondonno et al and published in the European Journal of Epidemiology.
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