Three new studies have determined green vegetables have a considerable impact on a healthy lifestyle. In the first study published by the University of Cambridge scientists determined that consuming vegetables high in nitrate content reduces the production of a hormone by the liver and kidneys. The hormone called erythropoietin is linked to the regulation of red blood cells in the body in response to a demand for oxygen.
High amounts of blood cells can thicken blood. This means that the body’s organs and tissues may be starved of oxygen because the blood is unable to flow through small blood vessels to get to them. The research findings from this study specify that eating more nitrate-rich vegetables could thin the blood by lowering the number of red blood cells produced. which could have important implications for health, especially cardiovascular disease.
“Here we show that nitrate from the diet can help regulate the delivery of oxygen to cells and tissues and its use, matching oxygen supply and demand. This ensures cells and tissues in the body have enough oxygen to function without needing to overproduce red blood cells, which can make the blood too thick and compromise health. Lowering the blood’s thickness without compromising oxygen delivery may also help prevent blood clots, reducing the risk of a stroke or heart attack,” said Dr. Murray the senior study author.
The second study, also led by Dr. Murray, exposed rats to high altitudes in order to trigger increased production of red blood cells. Dietary supplementation with nitrates, the equivalent to humans adding slightly more green vegetables to their diets, resulted in rats being better protected against an array of heart and circulatory conditions than rats fed a nitrate-free diet.
The study findings revealed that nitrate increases production of a compound that widens the blood vessels, according to the researchers, improving blood flow. What is more, the researchers found that nitrate protects proteins in heart cells that are crucial for heart health.
The third study by the University of Cambridge revealed that nitrate assists in converting white fat cells to beige fat cells called browning. Beige cells are similar to beneficial brown fat cells, which burn fat in order to generate heat. Increased levels of brown fat have been associated with reduced risk of obesity and diabetes, therefore the team theorized that incorporating nitrate into the diet could protect against these conditions.
“There have been a great many findings demonstrating a role for nitrate in reducing blood pressure and regulating the body’s metabolism.
These studies represent three further ways in which simple changes in the diet can modify people’s risk of type 2 diabetes and obesity as well as potentially alleviating symptoms of existing cardiovascular conditions to achieve an overall healthier life,” said Dr. Murray.
Suppression of erythropoiesis by dietary nitrate, Andrew J. Murray, et al., The FASEB Journal, doi: 10.1096/fj.14-263004, published online 24 November 2014, abstract.
Dietary nitrate increases arginine availability and protects mitochondrial complex I and energetics in the hypoxic rat heart, Andrew J. Murray, et al., J Physiol, doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2014.275263, published online 7 October 2014, abstract.
Inorganic nitrate promotes the browning of white adipose tissue through the nitrate-nitrite-nitric oxide pathway, Lee D. Roberts et al., Diabetes, doi: 10.2337/db14-0496, published online 23 September 2014, abstract.