More goodness in leafy greens: Source of not so negative nitrates

When you hear the word “nitrate,” it probably has a negative connotation. Often used in reference to processed deli items like bacon, cold cuts and cheeses, nitrates are used as food additives to stop growth of bacteria and preserve color.  But, they also happen to be naturally occurring and can be found in vegetables such as celery, spinach, lettuce and arugula. According to research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, naturally occurring nitrates may be helpful in reducing nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, a condition that affects about 30-40% of Americans.

In lab models, researchers administered a normal diet, a high-fat diet and a high-fat diet with added nitrates. Those in the high fat group gained weight, coupled with elevated blood sugar levels, as expected. The nitrate-supplemented group however, had significantly lower fat, lower blood pressure and better insulin sensitivity – they also had significantly lower levels of fat in the liver.

While this isn’t a quick fix, and more research is needed to understand the mechanism responsible – this is another BIG WIN for fruits and vegetables.

Raw spinach can be easily substituted for lettuce in salads, but if you’re looking to add some to more traditional meals, try turkey with tomatoes and spinach or a risotto with mushrooms and spinach.

Your Dole Team

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