Popeye was right. Consuming leafy greens appears to strengthen our muscles! In a study that followed the diets and physical status of 3,759 men and women over a 12-year period, those consuming the most dietary nitrate, a compound abundant in leafy greens, exhibited significantly greater strength of the lower extremities relative to those consuming the least.
These findings stood up regardless of the amount of physical activity the subjects engaged in—more greens, greater muscular strength. Dietary nitrates boost the production of nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide is the universal artery opener and boosts blood flow. Knowing that healthy muscle function requires optimal blood flow, these findings are not surprising. Take home message: eat your greens for a leaner and stronger YOU.
The Journal of Nutrition, 2021; DOI: 10.1093/jn/nxaa415