A team of Swedish scientists have found that nitrates, which are present in a variety of green, leafy vegetables are able to provide us with energy.
Up until fairly recently it was thought that nitrates had little nutritional value. However, scientists have now found that a single helping of spinach can increase the efficiency of mitochondria, which fuel cell activity and growth.
After taking a small dose of inorganic nitrate for three days, the participants in the study consumed less oxygen whilst riding an exercise bike. According to the scientists whose research has been published in the journal Cell Metabolism, this effect is caused by the nitrates making mitochondria less ‘leaky’ subsequently increasing their efficiency.
Professor Eddie Weitzberg from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm was lead researcher of the study, and said: ‘We know that diets rich in fruit and vegetables can help prevent cardiovascular disease and diabetes, but the active nutrients haven’t been clear. This shows inorganic nitrate as a candidate to explain those benefits.’