My Plantcentric Journey

Posts tagged ‘potassium’

Popeye Was Right! How Spinach Helps Build Muscle


New research about how spinach may help you stay strong
Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD

When you think of muscle-building foods like protein-rich meat or eggs ala the film Rocky may come to mind, but research shows that veggies also play an important role. A new Swedish study concluded that natural compounds found in vegetables like spinach and beets helped mice build stronger muscles.

Natural nitrates (not the synthetic kind used to cure meat like hot dogs) from veggies appear to stimulate muscle proteins at doses that can be obtained by eating a normal diet. In the study the amount fed to the rodents was equivalent to two or three beets or one bunch of spinach, roughly eight ounces.

In another recent post I shared new research about how natural substances in APPLES have been shown to help build muscle and fight fat. Other studies have also demonstrated the power of produce to help maintain muscle mass.  Researchers at the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University looked at the link between muscle and potassium-rich fruits and vegetables. After studying nearly 400 men and women for three years they found a pretty powerful effect. Those who ate the most potassium maintained an average of 3.6 additional pounds of muscle compared to those who consumed half as much, a benefit that could offset the 4.4 pound loss of lean tissue typically seen per decade in healthy men and women. Some of the best sources include sweet potatoes, spinach, beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, beets, bananas, oranges, cantaloupe, and kiwi.

Unfortunately if you added up all of the fruit and veggie servings the average American should have consumed over a lifetime that they did not eat you’d fill an entire football field. If you’re in the majority, and tend to fall short of the recommended two daily fruit and three daily veggie servings, set a goal of fitting in at least one more each day. It may just be one of the best ways to stay lean and strong!

What are your thoughts on this topic? Do you think of fruits and veggies as a strategy for sculpting your muscles? Please tweet your thoughts to @CYNTHIASASS and @SHAPE_MAGAZINE.

CYNTHIA SASS is a registered dietitian with master’s degrees in both nutrition science and public health. Frequently seen on national TV, she’s a SHAPE contributing editor and nutrition consultant to the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays. Her latest New York Times best seller is S.A.S.S! YOURSELF SLIM: CONQUER CRAVINGS, DROP POUNDS AND LOSE INCHES.

Disease Prevention Benefits of Going Vegan

Eating a healthy vegan diet has shown to prevent a number of diseases. Find out from the list below what you could potentially avoid just by switching to a healthy, balanced vegan way of eating.

  1. Cardiovascular disease. Eating nuts and whole grains, while eliminating dairy products and meat, will improve your cardiovascular health. A British study indicates that a vegan diet reduces the risk for heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. Vegan diets go far in preventing heart attack and stroke.
  2. Cholesterol. Eliminating any food that comes from an animal and you will eliminate all dietary cholesterol from your diet. Your heart will thank you for that.
  3. Blood pressure. A diet rich in whole grains is beneficial to your health in many ways, including lowering high blood pressure.
  4. Type 2 diabetes. Not only is a vegan diet a weapon against Type 2 diabetes, it is also “easier to follow than the standard diet recommended by the American Diabetic Association.” Read more about it here.
  5. Prostate cancer. A major study showed that men in the early stages of prostate cancer who switched to a vegan diet either stopped the progress of the cancer or may have even reversed the illness.
  6. Colon cancer. Eating a diet consisting of whole grains, along with fresh fruits and vegetables, can greatly reduce your chances of colon cancer.
  7. Breast cancer. Countries where women eat very little meat and animal products have a much lower rate of breast cancer than do the women in countries that consume more animal products.
  8. Macular degeneration. Diets with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens, carrots, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes, can help prevent the onset of age-related macular degeneration.
  9. Cataracts. Much the same way macular degeneration is headed off by a vegan diet, cataracts are also thought to be prevented through the intake of the same fruits and vegetables. Produce high in antioxidants are also believed to help prevent cataracts.
  10. Arthritis. Eliminating dairy consumption has long been connected with alleviating arthritis symptoms, but a new study indicates that a combination of gluten-free and vegan diet is very promising for improving the health of those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.
  11. Osteoporosis. Bone health depends on a balance of neither too much or too little protein, adequate calcium intake, high potassium, and low sodium. With a healthy vegan diet, all four of these points set a perfect scenario for preventing osteoporosis.        reprinted from

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