Surprising Health Benefits of Greens!
With all the scare in the news recently about contaminated lettuce, many people have chosen to skip eating their salads. Romaine was the only contaminated variety, and, after a short time the problem should be over. But, in the meantime to be safe, you can eat many other forms of lettuce, and you should. Here’s why:
Researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden recently discovered that green leafy vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, kale, and celery provide important health benefits besides their vitamin content. They are all naturally rich in nitrate, a very beneficial ingredient not only for cardiovascular health, but for liver health, too. The liver has so many important functions like filtering the blood from the digestive tract, detoxifying chemicals like alcohol, and metabolizing drugs. It also makes plasma proteins such as albumin, clotting factors, and bile critical for digestion and absorption of fats and fat soluble vitamins. The liver also helps make and regulate cholesterol.
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease which causes fat to build up in the liver affects almost 40% of the population and is linked to obesity. Researchers in Sweden decided to test the theory that nitrate may help prevent the problem, so they took mice and fed them a typical Western diet rich in sugar and fat. The good news is the mice that received nitrate rich foods along with the unhealthy high-fat and sugar diet had much less fat in the liver. It didn’t take very much nitrate to produce the desired effects for a healthier liver.
AMPK (AMP- activated protein kinase) is considered a central regulator of glucose and lipid metabolism in the liver. The preventive effect of nitrate likely involves preserved AMPK signaling and reduction of oxidative stress. This new study validates again the benefits of getting dark green leafy vegetables in your diet every day.