2. Spinach may help improve performance of the muscles
Research has shown that the cellular power plants of the muscles known as the mitochondria are improved by nitrate, an abundantly found substance in vegetables such as spinach.1✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
For the study, healthy individuals took nitrate equivalent of 200 to 300g of spinach for 3 days, and they then performed an exercise bike riding task. This is an amount of nitrate equal to what is found in a plate of spinach.
Thigh muscle samples were then analyzed and compared with samples from the same individuals after taking a placebo instead.
Mitochondria efficiency significantly improved after nitrate ingestion, with the mitochondria consuming less oxygen and producing more ATP per oxygen molecule consumed. ATP is a compound providing energy to power various processes in cells, such as the contraction of muscles.
The nitrates in spinach convert into nitric oxide in the body, which opens up the blood vessels, and blood flow and exercise performance are improved.
Another study has shown that consuming leafy greens such as spinach improves walking speeds and muscle strength. Health data from 3,759 individuals was evaluated over 12 years.2✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
Individuals who consumed the most nitrate-rich leafy greens had an 11% stronger lower limb strength with walking speed about 4% faster in comparison to individuals who consumed less leafy greens.
It was also revealed that muscle strength improved regardless of whether the individuals exercised.