An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but combining the sweet fruit with spinach may be doubly good for your heart and mind. Scientists with the University of Western Australia have discovered that consuming apples and spinach increases nitric oxide, an important molecule for cardiovascular and mental health.
Flavonoid-rich apples and nitrate-rich spinach increase NO in the body, boosting blood flow and blood vessel function, said lead researcher Catherine Bondonno, M.D., with the UWA School of Medicine and Pharmacology.
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"An imbalance of NO has been found in cardiovascular disorders and certain pathological conditions in the brain, [and] it appears cardiovascular disease or the presence of risk factors for cardiovascular disease contribute to cognitive decline," she said. "A diet high in fruit and vegetables is associated with improved cardiovascular and cognitive health."
For the study, the researchers tracked 30 healthy female and male volunteers randomly assigned to eat diets rich in apples, spinach, a combination of the two, or neither food product. They then compared the NO levels in their bodily fluids.
"Apples and spinach increased markers of NO in the plasma," Dr. Bondonno said. "In addition, spinach, and the apple [plus] spinach combination, significantly improved markers of NO in saliva and urine as well."
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