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Going Green for Muscle Strength

By Stephen R. Farris

If you were born pre-millennial, then you're probably familiar with the cartoon sailor, Popeye the Sailor Man. If you're just now catching up, or unfamiliar with the iconic cartoon character, Popeye was famous for opening up a can of spinach and by doing so, found superhuman strength to defeat his nemesis and often portrayed as a villain, Brutus.

Popeye's feat -- according to television history -- indeed boosted spinach sales across the United States back in the 1950s, '60s, and '70s.

So the question is, does spinach really do this, give you "superhuman" strength? The answer: Absolutely not, it's a cartoon for goodness sake. However, spinach is a leafy green vegetable and is packed with vitamins and minerals that are good for your body and diet. Plus, it's just one of the leafy green vegetables that could actually be associated with building strong muscles, according to a recent study.

How Does This Boost Work?

According to the study, leafy green vegetables -- spinach, kale, lettuce, collard, turnip and mustard greens -- are generally nitrate-rich, in which the body converts to nitric oxide. Nitric oxide opens the blood vessels up and makes blood flow better. And if you're into performance sports, this is something you want and need in order to keep going strong.

Stronger Muscles and Walking Faster

A study conducted on nearly 4,000 Australians during a 12-year span, showed an 11 percent increase in limb strength and a 4 percent increase in walking speed. It is noted that all of the participants consumed nitrate-rich leafy greens as part of their diet. As for muscle strength, the study showed that whether the participants exercised or chose not to, they still had an increase in muscle strength. You might not want to share that last part with your couch potato at home though.

Overall Health

Eating nitrate-rich leafy green vegetables can produce overall health benefits as well. Strong muscles help protect your joints and muscles. Eating nitrate-rich leafy green vegetables can also help lower blood pressure.

Nitrate-rich vegetables are not limited to just the leafy green variety. Vegetables such as radishes, fennel, parsley, cabbage, and arugula are also rich in nitrates. For people who don't care for fresh vegetables, there are plenty of supplements available at your corner drug store or grocery store that can be substituted.

So it looks like the creators of the famous cartoon character might have been onto something useful for our health after all.

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in North Little Rock, Ark.

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