Thursday, May 30, 2024

Call me Popeye!


Yes, you can call me Popeye if you like! Because my new, life-changing diet is based on the cartoon character’s favourite food, spinach.

After years of following the wrong advice about sports nutrition, and over-eating carbohydrates, I have switched to a protein-rich diet with every main meal featuring healthy helpings of spinach.

I began noticing changes within a few days. Weight began falling off (I have now lost seven pounds in just under a fortnight) and I immediately began to feel more alert and full of energy, as opposed to feeling tired all the time.

Not only am I more awake, I’m also sleeping better!

By coincidence, a scientific report into the values of spinach, produced in Sweden, was published last week in the magazine Cell Metabolism and picked up by the media all over the world.

As a squash player, I’ve always had a penchant for hitting the tin instead of the nick. Now, I’m aiming for the tin every day. A tin of spinach … Just like Popeye!

The Daily Mail in London reported: “It is well known as the superfood that gave Popeye his bulging muscles. Now scientists have discovered why spinach is the cartoon sailor’s secret weapon.

“They say nitrates, which are abundant in green, leafy vegetables of all kinds, boost the powerhouses in cells that provide energy. A single helping of spinach is enough to increase the efficiency of mitochondria, small bean-shaped bodies which fuel cell activity and growth.

“Originally it was thought that the iron content of spinach made it a power-food. Now scientists have learned that nitrates are the true energy-boosting ingredient in the vegetable.”

The i newspaper, the new tabloid version of The Independent, wrote: “Originally it was thought to be the iron content of spinach that accounted for its status as a superfood. Now researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden have found that it is the inorganic nitrate that spinach contains that is the secret of its strength-giving property.

“They gave a small dose  of nitrate, equivalent to that found in a plate of spinach, to volunteers riding an exercise bike and found that it reduced their need for oxygen. The improved performance of their muscles was due to increased efficiency of the mitochondria that power cells, the reserachers say.

“Nitrates interact with bacteria in the mouth to produce nitric oxide which has been known for decades to be a physiologically important molecule with a key role in opening blood vessels and lowering blood pressure, among other functions.”

The Times of India reported: “The new Swedish study has suggested that after eating leafy green vegetables, a source of inorganic nitrate, healthy people showcase increased efficiency of the mitochondria that power our cells.

And the effect is so strong that it starts working in just three days.

However, the researchers aren’t recommending anyone begin taking inorganic nitrate supplements based on the new findings.

“We’re talking about an amount of nitrate equivalent to what is found in two or three red beets or a plate of spinach. We know that diets rich in fruits and vegetables can help prevent cardiovascular disease and diabetes but the active nutrients haven’t been clear. This shows inorganic nitrate as a candidate to explain those benefits,” said Eddie Weitzberg of the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden.

“Weitzberg and his colleague Jon Lundberg have suggested that the increased mitochondrial efficiency is owed to lower levels of proteins that normally make the cellular powerhouses leaky.

“The new results have shown 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.”


Read more: For Popeye-like muscles, eat spinach – The Times of India

From The Independent:

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