GOOD HEALTH: Manage your muscle strength and physical function by improving your vegetable intake.
GOOD HEALTH: Manage your muscle strength and physical function by improving your vegetable intake. Svetl

Our diet needs to go more green

EATING one cup of leafy green vegetables every day is all it takes to help you maintain all-important good muscle strength and mobility.

The "cup" should be the size of a mug and filled each day full of foods such as nitrate-rich spinach or rocket or lettuce.

Edith Cowan University researchers tracked the diets of 1420 women aged over 70 through its longitudinal study of ageing women which was done in conjunction with the University of Western Australia.

They found the women who ate more nitrate-rich vegetables had significantly better muscle strength and physical function.

"Nitrate is linked to an improvement in vascular function," lead researcher Dr Marc Sim said.

"In terms of blood supply, we know that high nitrate consumption improves blood vessel health. What we think is actually happening is the constant supply of nitrates from the diet leads to better blood flow to the muscles."

A decline in muscle strength and physical function can place a person at a higher risk of disability and even premature death.

"Poor strength and function are also associated with other adverse outcomes such as falls and fractures, which substantially compromise an individual's independence," Dr Sim added.

In addition to keeping physically active, eating leafy greens should be added to your ongoing daily target of consuming at least five servings of vegetables each day.

If you aren't doing this already, Dr Sim recommends you start slowly and work up so that you can maintain this change to your lifestyle.

"It's also important that we need to consume a diverse range of vegetables," Dr Sim said.

By doing this, you will be consuming a diverse range of nutrients.

"One vegetable may be rich in one nutrient, but not so rich in others. By having a whole suite of vegetables, you are getting like your multi-vitamins."


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