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Eating One Cup of Dark Leafy Greens May Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease

Martha Stewart Living logo Martha Stewart Living 5/4/2021 Kelly Vaughan
a bowl of food with broccoli: AnjelaGr / Getty Images © Provided by Martha Stewart Living AnjelaGr / Getty Images

Health experts have long touted the benefits of consuming vegetables and greens like spinach, kale, cabbage, and collard greens. However, a new study has found that eating one cup of dark leafy greens each day may lower your risk of heart disease and lower blood pressure. Researchers at Edith Cowan University in Australia investigated whether or not people who regularly ate high quantities of nitrate-rich vegetables like leafy greens had lower blood pressure and a lower risk of developing heart disease later in life. Using 23 year's worth of data from over 50,000 Danish citizens, the team found that people who consumed the most nitrate-rich vegetables had, on average, a 2.5 mmHg lower systolic blood pressure and a 12 to 26 percent lower risk of heart disease.

a bowl of food with broccoli: Consuming spinach, kale, chard, and other vegetables significantly improves individual's cardiovascular health. © AnjelaGr / Getty Images Consuming spinach, kale, chard, and other vegetables significantly improves individual's cardiovascular health.

"Our results have shown that by simply eating one cup of raw (or half a cup of cooked) nitrate-rich vegetables each day, people may be able to significantly reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease," lead researcher Dr. Catherine Bondonno said.


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By eating nitrate-rich vegetables, Dr. Bondonno's team found that the greatest reduction in risk was for peripheral artery disease (26 percent), which is a type of heart disease that narrows of blood vessels of the legs. "However, we also found people had a lower risk of heart attacks, strokes, and heart failure," she said.

Based on the data provided, researchers did not find that eating more than one cup of leafy green vegetables each day further lowered individuals' risk of developing a form of heart disease. "People don't need to be taking supplements to boost their nitrate levels because the study showed that one cup of leafy green vegetables each day is enough to reap the benefits for heart disease," Dr. Bondonno said.

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