One Cup of Greens May Be Key to Heart Health

One of the critical components to good health is a diet filled with fruits and vegetables. A diet filled with a variety of healthy veggies provides nutrients and vitamins to help your body perform at its best. But, each aspect of health has its own specific needs. A new study found that just one cup of leafy greens can lower the risk of heart disease.

While you should try to fit lots of vegetables into your diet, one cup of leafy greens may be more manageable. The study found that eating 60 milligrams of vegetable nitrate a day can reduce your risk of heart disease. That is one cup of uncooked greens. Spinach and arugula are excellent sources of nitrate. A daily green juice smoothie, a side salad or a side of cooked greens with a meal could boost your heart health.

Eating leafy greens has long been associated with a number of health benefits including reduced risk of cardiovascular disease,” said Sarah Anzlovar, a registered dietitian. “This study gives us just another reason to add leafy greens to our day. The results suggest that you can reap the benefits from just 60 grams [of vegetable nitrates] or about 1 cup raw per day (even less cooked), so you don’t have to go crazy with greens either.”

Nitrate changes to nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide dilates blood vessels and lowers blood pressure. Your heart doesn’t have to work as hard, your blood flows better, your organs get oxygen more readily and your blood vessels remain healthy. People who eat many nitrate-rich foods have a 26 percent lower rate of hospitalization with peripheral artery disease. They have a 17 percent lower risk for strokes. They are 15 percent less likely to experience heart failure. And they have a 12 percent lower risk for ischemic heart disease. Studies disagree about whether or not nitrates lower the risk of coronary heart disease. However, with all of the benefits, you should be eating more nitrate-rich greens.

The good news is that there are a variety of greens to choose from that all offer similar benefits, and they are incredibly versatile,” said Ms. Anzlovar. “Whether it’s spinach, kale, mustard greens, Swiss chard, bok choy or collard greens, choose the ones you like best because if you enjoy eating them, you’ll actually stick to it.”

You can mix them into soup, have them in an omelet, hide them from yourself in meatloaf or a pasta sauce. We’re fans of that last trick for picky eaters. There’s a myth that people grow out of disliking vegetables. Plenty of adults don’t like greens. Any mom will tell you that meatloaf is a great way to sneak vegetables into a meal. Adding them to healthy pasta dishes with strong flavors is another great option. There is no need to be embarrassed for being a picky eater — just learn to trick yourself!

One cup a day is a manageable goal and can help you each better heart health. With a few tricks, it doesn’t have to be a chore.

Banner image: Louis Hansel via Unsplash
July 07, 2021
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