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Higher Dietary Intake of Nitrates May Help Improve Muscle Function

Nitrates are compounds that contain nitrogen and oxygen and occur naturally in the human body and some foods, such as vegetables. A recent study has found that higher habitual dietary intake of nitrates, especially from vegetables, may help improve lower limb muscle function.

The researchers used data from 3,759 people with an average age of 48 who participated in the Australian Diabetes, Obesity, and Lifestyle Study. Participants were followed for an average of 12 years. Food-frequency questionnaires were administered at baseline and year 5 or year 12 to measure dietary nitrate intake. Muscle function was evaluated by measuring knee extension strength and the 8-ft timed up and go test at the end of the study period.

Participants with the highest dietary intake of nitrates (>91 mg/d) had 11% stronger lower limb strength compared to those with the lowest dietary intake (<47 mg/d). They also had 4% faster walking speeds.

The study was conducted by researchers from Edith Cowan University. It was published online ahead of print on March 24, 2021 in The Journal of Nutrition.

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