Eat More Of These If You Want Stronger Muscles

Getting your daily dose of fruits and vegetables is key to any healthy diet. But now, researchers say nutrient-rich green veggies can do even more for your muscular health.

A new study from the Journal of Nutrition found that eating leafy greens like spinach and kale can give your lower-limb muscles a much-needed boost — and can even help prevent fractures or falls.

"Our study has shown that diets high in nitrate-rich vegetables may bolster your muscle strength independently of any physical activity," lead researcher Dr. Marc Sim from Edith Cowan University's Institute for Nutrition Research said.

The research focused on 3,759 Australians in Melbourne's Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute AusDiab study over the course of 12 years. Researchers found that the participants who had the highest regular nitrate consumption experienced 11 percent stronger lower limbs than those who had the lowest nitrate intake (via Healthline).

How spinach and kale can boost your exercise performance

So how does it all work? The nitrates gained from vegetables like spinach and kale are converted into nitric oxide, opening up the blood vessels to improve the body's blood flow. This in turn, boosts exercise performance — and explains why participants with a nitrate-rich diet had a 4 percent faster walking speed than others.

If strong muscles aren't enough to make you want to jump on the spinach and kale train, the other numerous benefits may be your deciding factor. Adding lots of vegetables to your diet can also improve your heart health and serve as "brain food" for your cognitive health.

There are also plenty of other nitrate-rich options to choose from if you would prefer to skip the spinach and kale salads. Arugula, beetroot, cabbage, fennel, radishes, and parsley can also have positive effects on your health.

Sim recommends adding regular exercise including weight training to your wellness routine for ideal muscle optimization.