Inorganic nitrate in fruits and vegetables increased the efficiency of the mitochondria that power our cells says a study in the journal Cell Metabolism. Here are some highlights of the study:
"We're talking about an amount of nitrate equivalent to what is found in two or three red beets or a plate of spinach," said Eddie Weitzberg of the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden.
The new study offers yet another benefit of nitrate and the nitric oxides that stem from them. It appears that the increased mitochondrial efficiency is owed to lower levels of proteins that normally make the cellular powerhouses leaky. "Mitochondria normally aren't fully efficient," Weitzberg explained. "No machine is."
Questions do remain. The new results show that increased dietary nitrate can have a rather immediate effect. But it's not yet clear what might happen in people who consume higher levels of inorganic nitrate over longer periods of time. Weitzberg says it will be a natural next step to repeat the experiment in people with conditions linked to mitochondrial dysfunction, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease, to see if they too enjoy the benefits of nitrates.
Popeye and Jack LaLanne were right - eat your spinach!