Keeping your heart healthy as you age doesn’t have to be a hassle. In fact, simply adding more veggies to your meals can be a huge step in avoiding heart failure down the road. New research suggests that eating nitrate rich vegetables can reduce heart disease risk by 15 percent.
A recent study published in the European Journal of Epidemiology looked at the heart health benefits of consuming nitrate rich vegetables such as celery, lettuce, carrots, potatoes, and spinach every day. Participants completed food frequency questionnaires to record their daily veggie intake with researchers following up with each of them over a 23 year period. Researchers ultimately found that participants who consumed 60 mg. or one cup of nitrate rich vegetables daily were associated with having a 15 percent lower chance of developing heart disease. Surprisingly, the study authors didn’t find a link between eating more than one cup of veggies and further reducing heart failure risk.
Researchers credited this heart-protecting effect to the fact that nitrate is a source of nitric oxide (NO). Essentially, nitrate intake through veggies increases the amount of NO in the body. Previous research has shown that NO is a key chemical that expands and relaxes your blood vessels. This is necessary to keep your blood pressure under control to avoid heart disease and stroke. Plus, this natural chemical has extra benefits like helping you burn stubborn fat and get a great night’s sleep (a win-win!).
If you’re already eating this amount of nitrate rich vegetables every day, then you’re off to a great start. But if you’re not sure how to add more of these veggies into your diet, here’s some yummy food inspo.
Dr. Oz uses nitrate-rich celery and spinach in his veggie flush smoothie recipe. This makes it a healthy and refreshing sip that’s easy to make at home. Also, spinach and celery are just as tasty when added to a salad for lunch or dinner.
If you’re looking for a hearty nitrate-filled veggie, look no further than potatoes. Spuds are super versatile to cook with from roasting to boiling for a creamy mash. Try using them to make air fryer potato chips as an everyday snack that’s more nutritious than the store bought versions.
Taking a trip down the grocery aisle, you’ll find that carrots are sold all year round. But, they’re all at their peak in the fall. So you’re definitely going to want to load up on these seasonal gems for a nitrate boost. Slice them into one inch pieces to enjoy as a crunchy snack or boiled as a simple weeknight side dish. They’re especially delicious roasted and topped over hummus for an afternoon treat or to serve at a holiday party.
Making nitrate-packed veggies a staple part of your everyday eating habits truly pays off in form of better heart health.