Eat your Greens for Good Health

You may have heard of this very familiar line to the point that you have had enough of it—‘eat your greens because they’re good for you.’  Well, three recent studies suggest that you should really make it a habit to eat more green leafy vegetables if you want to be free from heart-related diseases, diabetes, and obesity.

Researchers from the University of Southampton and University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom recently made a study on the effects of vegetables on health, and discovered that those who take more greens have lower risks of heart ailments, diabetes, and obesity.

In the first study co-authored by Doctor Andrew Murray from the University of Cambridge, experts found out that people who consume more vegetables with high levels of nitrate may lessen the production of erythropoietin, a hormone made by the liver and kidney and responsible for the regulation of red blood cells in the body.

The experts explained that people with cardiovascular diseases may experience a shortage of oxygen. To get more oxygen around the body, the hormone erythropoietin increases its production of blood cells. But there’s a downside to it, as too much blood cells can make the blood thick. When this happens, oxygen won’t be able to reach the organs and tissues as the blood is unable to get through the small blood vessels due to the thickening of the blood.

However,  eating vegetables that are rich in nitrate like lettuce, spinach, and cabbage can thin the blood by decreasing the number of red blood cells produced. According to Dr. Murray, dietary nitrate protects us against heart and circulatory conditions.

The second study was also led by Dr. Murray and published recently in the Journal of Physiology. This time, the study had rats exposed to high altitudes to cause the increase of red blood cell productions in their bodies.

The researchers found that rats which were fed with nitrate diet were better protected against heart and circulatory conditions compared to those which had a nitrate-free diet. The experts say that nitrate diet in rats is akin to humans adding more green vegetables to their plates.

According to the scientists, nitrate increases the body’s ability to produce a compound that widens the blood vessels and improves blood flow. They were also convinced that nitrate is vital for the production of proteins in the heart cells which is needed for optimum heart health.

The team concluded that eating vegetables rich in nitrate is beneficial for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or exposed to hypobaric hypoxia at high altitudes.

The third study, meanwhile, suggests that nitrate converts bad white cells to ‘good’ fat cells. This time, scientists from the University of Cambridge discovered that nitrate transforms bad fat cells to good white cells in a process they dubbed as browning.

According to the research team, whose study was published in the Diabetes journal, white cells  or beige cells are comparable to good brown fat cells that burn the fats to generate heat. High levels of brown fat cells have been linked to reduced incidence of obesity and lower risks of diabetes. Thus they concluded that incorporating nitrate into one’s diet can protect a person against the said conditions.

These studies are the latest in a long list of scientific findings that prove incorporating vegetables in one’s diet can have a huge impact on a person’s health. In the past, vegetables rich in nitrates have been associated with lower blood pressure.

One study conducted by researchers from Queen Mary University in London and published in the journal Hypertension showed that nitrate can help in decreasing blood pressure in people with hypertension.

In the said study, scientists looked into the impact of nitrate on blood pressure in 15 patients with hypertension.  The human subjects consisting of eight females and seven males had systolic blood pressure ranging from 140 and 159 mmHG and did not have any other existing medical problems.

They were asked to drink 250 ml of water with low nitrate, and then their blood pressure was observed after 24 hours. It was discovered that there was about a ten-point decrease in blood pressure levels in their blood pressure readings.

Given the many health benefits of eating green vegetables, you should start making it a habit to eat more of these nutritious foods. If you are the type of person who likes to dine out, maybe you can start by eating in restaurants that serve healthy meals like Maggiano’s Little Italy or Olive Garden.

You may have been very picky when it comes to vegetables, preferring to eat meat instead but with lots of suggesting the many health benefits of vegetables you really ought to incorporate greens in your diet so you can live a longer life.