In a study published in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), researchers found out that leafy greens contain compounds that can help prevent non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in mice. Non-fatty liver disease, also called steatosis, is a disease wherein the fat builds up in the liver. Several studies suggest that NAFLD occurs in up to 40% of adults in the United States. NAFLD is one of the most common causes of chronic liver disease especially in many developed nations where obesity rates are high. Experts linked NAFLD with other conditions including metabolic risk factors and obesity.

Leafy Greens Can Help Reduce The Risk For NAFLD

To date, there are no known approved therapies for NAFLD. Thus, if left unaddressed, it can lead to severe conditions including liver cirrhosis, steatohepatitis, and fibrosis. While there are no approved drug treatments for NAFLD, it can still be managed by losing weight, doing more physical exercise, and reducing fat intake. But aside from these strategies, it is also important to eat the right food.

A study conducted by researchers from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden discovered that the presence of inorganic nitrate in leafy greens could help reduce the incidence of fat buildup in the liver. Senior researcher Mattias Calstrom from the same university noted that inorganic nitrate is essential in reducing the prevalence of NAFLD in mice.

Benefits Of Nitrates On Mice Model Experiments

To conduct the study, mice models were used. The mice were divided into three groups and were fed with different diets. The control group was given a regular diet, the second group was given only a high-fat diet, and the last group was given a high-fat diet with nitrate supplementation.

Studies show that the mice that were given high-fat diet and supplementation had better insulin sensitivity and lower blood pressure compared to those that were never given nitrate supplementation. Nitrate, commonly found in green leafy vegetables such as spinach, is an essential compound in the body. Previous studies suggest that nitrates can increase the efficiency of the mitochondria – the powerhouse of the cell – thus improving energy. But more than boosting the energy, studies also show that nitrate can help protect the body against metabolic diseases such as Type 2 diabetes and obesity.

Aside from benefiting from the lowered risk for NAFLD, studies also show that there are many other health benefits from taking in foods rich in nitrate. One of the benefits is that it can have positive effects on cardiovascular health.

The Future Of Nitrate Supplementation

Calstrom noted that diseases such as Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease follow the same mechanism wherein oxidative stress affects the nitric oxide signaling thus resulting in many metabolic disorders. As such, intake of nitrates has a lot of benefits to the body as it can help fight off the effects of oxidative stress. However, it is important to take note that researchers are yet to find out what other compounds make leafy greens very helpful to the body, but nitrates can pave the way to more discoveries.  For now, supplementation with nitrates can lead to new approaches to liver health.

Inspired by www.medicalnewstoday.com

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