Science Says: Eat Your Greens

We know we should be eating our greens, and as an avid wellness column reader, you no doubt already have a diet rich in green goodness. What you may not know is that, according to new research eating your greens has been shown to reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke by up to 40%.

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This latest advice is courtesy of the researchers at Edith Cowan University, School of Medical Health and Science who studied the diets of more than 1000 West Austrian Women. The researchers focused on the women’s dietary intake of nitrate from vegetables.

Putting the Breaks on Blood Pressure

The researchers observed a fascinating process that is occurring inside our mouths. The bacteria that are present in our mouths break down the nitrates in the foods we eat and transform them into a compound called nitrite as well as other bi-products which are essential to regulating our blood pressure reducing the risk of heart attacks and stroke.

Where are nitrates found?

Nitrates are an essential nutrient for all plant growth but they are found in particularly high concentrates in leafy green vegetables like spinach, lettuce, and kale as well as prominently in radishes, beetroot and celery.

Does that mean Bacon is Healthy?

I know what you’re thinking, bacon is cured using sodium nitrate so it must be amazing for cardiovascular health right? Not according to most health experts who explain that the nitrates in bacon are not converted in the same favourable way your body converts vegetable nitrates. Nevertheless, bacon lovers, don’t despair: there is some spirited debate about the pros and cons of bacon consumption, a topic we may revisit.

How much do you need?

To satisfy your body’s needs for nitrates, the recommended intake is about a cup of raw veges a day. Which means that if you have a generous portion of salad every day then you’re giving your cardiovascular system a fighting chance of many more years of faithful service.