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Spinach Does Make Muscles Stronger, Study

Spinach Does Make Muscles Stronger, Study

(epharmanews)- Parents who convince their children to eat spinach claiming it makes them stronger are right. Nitrate, which can be found naturally in spinach as well as other vegetables, has a powerful effect on muscle strength, says a new study.

Researchers at Karolinska Institutet studied the effects of nitrates on muscles strength in mice. They grouped the mice into two groups. The first group was given nitrates in drinking water for seven days. The second (control group) was not given anything.

Nitrates can be found mainly in spinach and beetroot. However, it can also be found in other leafy vegetables such as lettuce and chard. The mice were given an amount of nitrates equal to what someone can obtain from eating 200-300 grams of fresh spinach or 2-3 beetroots a day.

A week after the study has started; researchers tested the muscle strength on the mice’s legs and feet. They found that the group which was given nitrate in drinking water had stronger muscles when compared to the other (control) group.

Scientists later found that the group which had nitrates had higher concentrations of two different proteins in their muscles, which is assumed to explain the greater muscle strength. These two proteins, CASQ1 and DHPR, are involved in the homeostasis of calcium, a critical determinant of muscle contraction.

“From a nutritional perspective our study is interesting because the amount of nitrate that affected muscle strength in mice was relatively low,” says Dr. Andrés Hernández, researcher at the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology. “Translated to humans it means that we can obtain the equivalent volume by eating more of a vegetarian diet, as nitrate is found naturally in several leafy vegetables, especially in beetroot juice, for example. There are currently no dietary supplements containing nitrate.”

This study is important to exploit this health benefit of spinach and leafy vegetables to enhance muscle strength by only adding them to normal diets rather than consuming large amounts of them.  Researches are now set to do more research on how nitrate can help people with weak muscles.

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Prepared by: Marcell Shehwaro

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