Green vegetables that are rich in nitrate might be of the best foods that provide protection against heart disease, as well as associated ailments like obesity and diabetes. They are said to contain the chemical nitrate that triggers certain processes in the body, such as, dilating the blood vessels to ease blood flow.
Green vegetables: tuned to care for our well-being
We have at our disposal entities of nature subjected for us to make use of them for our own well-being – thus have our needs been taken care of. The world is shaped and shielded such that we are sheltered; we take from what is available in nature to clothe us; our cells making us up feed on the energy provided by the food we consume: each and every of these resources has a purpose. The same goes for greens!
Green vegetables are generally disliked by humans who fail to see that going green, in fact, goes beyond the make-up of the environment that contains us: it has to start with us, and within us. New studies have yet again highlighted the virtues of green vegetables, more specifically spinach, lettuce and celery. According to the results of the research, nitrate found in these veggies might help protect the heart and decrease the risk of two of the most dangerous non-communicable diseases, diabetes and obesity.
Three studies have generated similar results. Researchers from the University of Cambridge and the University of Southampton have expounded the benefits of the vegetables.
First study: Nitrate & oxygen content
One of the research works shows that the consumption of vegetables with a high nitrate content is greatly advantageous for the health of the heart.
Cardiovascular diseases are characterised by a shortage of oxygen. The heart pumps blood throughout the body to deliver the life-sustaining gas, oxygen. However, if the function of the pumping organ is impaired, the body cells do not receive adequate oxygen. As a response to this, the body triggers an increase in the production of blood cells to maximise the taking up of oxygen. For this to happen, the hormone erythropoietin which regulates the number of red blood cells (RBCs) is manufactured by the liver and kidneys in greater amounts. This increase in RBCs impacts on the fluidity of the blood which thereby becomes thicker, and unable to flow as smoothly as normal through small blood vessels. The body cells are thus deprived of oxygen futher. Vegetables rich in nitrate interferes with this process by reducing the production of erythropoietin. As a result, the number of RBCs also decreases, and the blood is thinned.
One of the authors stated that:
“Here we show that nitrate from the diet can help regulate the delivery of oxygen to cells and tissues and its use, matching oxygen supply and demand. This ensures cells and tissues in the body have enough oxygen to function without needing to overproduce red blood cells, which can make the blood too thick and compromise health.Lowering the blood’s thickness without compromising oxygen delivery may also help prevent blood clots, reducing the risk of a stroke or heart attack.”
Second study: Nitrate & effects of high altitude on the heart
The second study dealt with altitude and its impacts on the heart. Being in high-altitude places has the same effect as cardiovascular diseases relating to the production of RBCs which increases. The researchers of this study made rats subject to high-altitude situations to generate the manufacture of the cells. Their results showed that those rats fed with a nitrate diet had better protection from circulatory difficulties than the rats not consuming nitrate. In this case, the nitrate was found to cause widening of the blood vessels: the production of the compound stimulating the response was triggered. Thus, blood flow was improved.
One of the statements of the authors was:
“Nitrate supplementation may thus be of benefit to individuals exposed to hypobaric hypoxia at altitude or in patients with diseases characterized by tissue hypoxia and energetic impairment, such as heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or in the critically ill”.
Third study: Nitrate & fats
The last study illustrates how nitrate generates an effect on fats. It causes the bad kind of fat cells (bad white fat cells) to turn into beige cells – a process known as ‘browning’. The beige cells are like the good brown fat cells in their action of burning fat into heat. Brown fat is associated with decreased risk of obesity and diabetes.
Comments on the study results
One of the authors said that:
“There have been a great many findings demonstrating a role for nitrate in reducing blood pressure and regulating the body’s metabolism.These studies represent three further ways in which simple changes in the diet can modify people’s risk of type 2 diabetes and obesity as well as potentially alleviating symptoms of existing cardiovascular conditions to achieve an overall healthier life.”