Now that it’s June, I’m sure you’ve been pulling some of those summer picnic recipes out of the pantry and working your magic for some outdoor eating.
After all, for most of the country – including here in the Northeast – every day without snow and cold is a day to celebrate!
But many of your favorite summertime foods — from pasta and potato salads to chips and fruit pies — are LOADED with carbs that expand your waistline, spike your blood sugar, and put your heart health on the line.
But according to a new study, swapping those carbo-bombs for nitrate-rich veggies like spinach, beets, and carrots can slash your risk of dying of heart disease before your time.
That’s because nitrate boosts a compound in your body called “nitric oxide” (NO) that’s essential for heart health.
As I’ve shared with you before, NO relaxes your arteries to allow blood to gush through more freely… and without enough of it, your heart can literally stop dead in its tracks.
In the study, Case Western Reserve University researchers genetically altered mice so that NO couldn’t attach to receptors in their heart cells.
And once that access to NO was switched off, the mice developed classic signs of heart failure: Heart rate and pump function flatlined.
And when the researchers looked at tissue samples from human hearts that had failed, they found that two-thirds of them showed signs of NO deficiency.
That suggests that without enough NO, your heart simply can’t pump properly!
In fact, the study also found that mainstream heart drugs won’t do you a lick of good if you don’t have enough NO in your system.
The science gets a little tricky here… but stick with me.
Most common heart meds — like beta blockers — target protein receptors on the surface of your heart cells.
These receptors have two pathways: One activates proteins that benefit your heart, while the other activates proteins that can cause harmful side effects.
And in the study, they found that NO can actually shut down the detrimental pathway, allowing heart drugs to do their job without triggering as many risky side effects.
Plus, NO benefits much more than your heart. It allows blood to flow to every nook and cranny of your body, slashing your risk of glaucoma… Alzheimer’s… and blood clots.
And guys, it can even help you perform better in the “moment.”
So, now that summer’s kicking off, pile your salads high with refreshing nitrate-rich veggies like lettuce, arugula, celery, and fennel .
Daily exercise and the vitamin C from citrus fruits can also help bolster NO levels, as can foods like garlic and cocoa and supplements like citrulline and arginine, among others.