Daily consumption of leafy greens may lower blood pressure, according to a study.

cup, of, leafy, greens, to, ward, off, heart, disease?

Never thought of adding spinach to your smoothie? But this recipe could help protect you from heart disease. In fact, a study conducted by Edith Cowan University (ECU) found that one cup of nitrate-rich vegetables per day could significantly reduce the risk of heart disease.

The researchers explored the possible link between high consumption of nitrate-rich vegetables such as leafy greens and beets and lower blood pressure. They also found that these people were less likely to be diagnosed with heart disease a few years later.

Lower risk of heart attack

In this study, scientists analyzed data from more than 50,000 Danes. The results? They found that fans of nitrate-rich vegetables had about 2.5 mmHg lower systolic blood pressure and a 12 to 26 percent lower risk of heart disease. "Our results showed that by simply eating a cup of raw vegetables (or half a cup of cooked vegetables) rich in nitrate each day, people may be able to significantly reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease," explained Dr. Catherine Bondonno of ECU's Nutritional Research Institute.

The greatest risk reduction was in peripheral arterial disease (26%). (...) but we also found that people had a lower risk of heart attack, stroke and heart failure". 

One cup of leafy greens is enough

In terms of quantity, there is no need to eat only leafy greens, as the optimal amount would be only one cup per day. Eating more doesn't provide any additional benefit, as Dr. Bondonno explains: "People don't need to take supplements to increase their nitrate levels, because the study showed that one cup of leafy greens each day is enough to reap the benefits against heart disease. We did not see any other benefits in people who ate higher levels of nitrate-rich vegetables."

Finally, if you're not sure how to eat a cup of these vegetables, Dr. Bondonno recommends including a cup of spinach in a banana or berry smoothie.