Popeye got it right with spinach

2012-06-25 22:28
<a href="http://www.shutterstock.com">Shutterstock</a>

Shutterstock

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Stockholm - Famous cartoon character Popeye is right to down a can of spinach when he wants his biceps to bulge, according to a Swedish study presented on Monday showing why the leafy vegetable makes us stronger.

Researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm said on Monday they had conducted a study showing how nitrate, found naturally in spinach and several other vegetables, tones up muscles.

For the study, which will be published in the Journal of Physiology, the research team had placed nitrate directly in the drinking water of a group of mice for one week and then dissected them and compared their muscle functions to that of a control group.

"The mice that had been on consistent nitrate had much stronger muscles," they said in a statement.

The nitrate used "was equivalent to a human's consumption of about 200gr to 250gr of spinach a day, so it's a very easily obtained amount," one of the researchers at the department of physiology and pharmacology, Andres Hernandez, told AFP.

"Well, it is if you eat spinach. For people who don't eat their vegetables, it will be more tricky," he added.

While no effect could be seen in the so-called slow-twitch muscles used for moderate exercise and endurance, the scientists saw a clear change could be seen in the fast-twitch muscles used for strength and more high-intensity exercises, Hernandez said.

Why?

The tricky question, he said, was determining why this happened.

The researchers discovered that the nitrates had prompted an increase in two proteins, found naturally in the muscles, that are used for storing and releasing calcium, which is vital to making muscles contract.

The protein increase in turn led to higher quantities of calcium released in the muscles, Hernandez said, pointing out that "if you have more calcium released, you have a stronger contraction".

Translated into human terms, consuming nitrates from for instance spinach increases the muscle strength available for things like lifting weights or sprinting up a steep hill.

It could also increase endurance, Hernandez said, pointing out that when stronger, the fast-twitch muscles, which fatigue faster than other muscles, do not need to contract as frequently.

This is not only good news for exercise buffs looking to improve their performance.

"The really exciting part is to go ahead and look at people with muscle weakness, with muscle diseases, and even aging, and see if this can actually improve their muscle function," Hernandez said.

He said the research team aimed to conduct a few more studies on mice, but hoped to also carry out studies on humans soon.

- SAPA
Read more on:    sweden  |  research
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
6 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24

 
/News

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

New Business Corporate Sales Consultant

Western Cape
AGA Recruitment Specialists
R17 000 - R20 000 Per Month

Production Pharmacist

Western Cape
Dante Personnel Recruitment
R40 000 - R45 000 Per Month

MDWA016 COSTING CLERK (9 MONTH CONTRACT ONLY)

Western Cape
Anchor Executive Recruitment (Pty) Ltd
R10 000 - R12 000 Per Month

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

40% off top appliances!

Save 40% on the top 10 appliances on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

Save 20% on Camping gear!

Buy 4 camping items and save 20%. While stocks last. Shop now!

Fifty Shades of Grey!

This great read will captivate you from cover to cover and leave you itching for more. Get your copy now!

20% off braai items!

Save 20% when you buy 2 braai items. While stocks last. Shop now!

30% off Pampers!

Save 30% when you buy 3 or more selected pampers products. While stocks last. Shop now!

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You are on form and you may like an audience to share your ideas and concepts with. Drama and creativity flavour your...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.