There are many well-documented health benefits to having a diet rich in vegetables. We know about the excellent source of vitamins, minierals and antioxidants they provide. As one of the most nutrient dense food sources, they are also rich in fibre, essential for proper functioning, and carry a low calorie content. This makes them an ideal food allie for anyone attempting to maintain or lose wieght.
Nitrate Content of Vegetables
The thing I find most interesting about vegetables, however, relates back to the title of this article. Some of the lesser known benefits of a high veggie intake are down to a high concentration of nitrate. This is particularly true of spinach, beetroot and rocket.
So why is nitrate useful to the body? It has gained high interest in the sport and exercise industry, with a selection of promising studies showing that nitrate reduces resting blood pressure and lowers oxygen costs during exercise. This means it makes your body much more functional and efficient when performing physical movement. It also means that the oxygen you take in is used much more effectively and that your body does not have to work as hard to fuel your muscles with oxygenated blood leading to you being able to perfrom better and for longer.
Now to keep it light on the science, what does this mean? It means by eating your vegetables you are not only making your body more healthy but at the same time you can also reap the performance rewards. So if you include vegetables that are high in nitrate in your diet, you are bumping up the benefits without increasing the amount of work you were orginally doing. There is a limit to it though, over consuming will not help you as your body will just excreet it away. A study found that simply a glass of beetroot juice each day was enough to bump up the effcientcy of you oxygen costs.
Take Home Message
So what should you take away from this? Eat your vegetables! But try to mix it up with some rich in nitrate and you will be swimming in the benefits.