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spinachThose who are working out regularly and dreaming about having large muscles should actually try using a trick of Popeye. That’s right – eating spinach! Specialists of well-known Mayo Clinic in Rochester published their new findings about miraculous properties of spinach and other leafy vegetables to boost muscles by reducing the amount of oxygen needed for building muscle tissues during workouts. The report about the research was published in the last issue of Cell Metabolism journal.

The research involved observing the efficiency of daily workouts of 14 volunteers. The scientists noticed that after taking small doses of such substance as inorganic nitrate which can be found in spinach and other leafy green veggies, for several days the participants displayed less need in oxygen while exercising – in particular, when riding a bike. It can be explained by improved oxygen usage in mitochondria and a better cell performance in muscle tissues caused by this phenomena.

PopeyeNitric oxide has been known before form its various health benefits. In particular, earlier researches have shown that this substance contributes in lowering blood pressure and strengthening blood vessels. But the recent study was the first to find out about the effects of this substance on mitochondria, the power plant of cells, and opening the ways for human body to become more efficient during workouts and other physical activities.

Therefore, the specialists are convinced that at least in a short-term period using inorganic nitrate can be beneficial for boosting muscles and improving physical performance for young and healthy individuals. At that, the scientists insist on using only natural sources of this substance, saying that taking inorganic nitrate supplements may not bring to the same effect. Eddie Weitzberg, one of the scientists says: “We’re talking about an amount of nitrate equivalent to what is found in two or three red beets or a plate of spinach. We know that diets rich in fruits and vegetables can help prevent cardiovascular disease and diabetes but the active nutrients haven’t been clear. This shows inorganic nitrate as a candidate to explain those benefits.”

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