Spinach, broccoli, cabbage, kale and even lettuce contain the beneficial chemical nitrate which can reach all parts of the body, claim British researchers.
In three independent studies they found leafy green vegetables can thin the blood, ensuring oxygen is delivered efficiently. around the body and cutting the risk of dangerous clots, stroke and heart attacks.
Nitrate, which is also found in beetroot, also sets off a chain reaction that widens and opens blood vessels and converts bad white fat cells into good brown, fat-burning cells, which can combat obesity and type 2 diabetes.
The findings suggest people may be able to alter the thickness of their blood through simple changes in their diet, which could be important for patients with cardiovascular diseases.
Sufferers may be able to improve their quality of life through simply introducing more nitrate rich vegetables into their diet.
The studies from the Universities of Cambridge and Southampton, part-funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF), were published yesterday.
Researcher Dr Tom Ashmore, said ‘The best thing about nitrate is that it is not expensive, treatment is not invasive and not much is needed to observe a significant effect.
‘The only downfall is some people don’t like vegetables.’
Dr Ashmore led a study showing how eating more nitrate rich vegetables like spinach, and lettuce such as rocket and iceberg, can reduce the production of a hormone, called erythropoietin, made by the kidneys and liver.
This hormone determines production of red blood cells, which increase oxygen levels and the thickness of blood.