Well blow me down, Popeye was right. I didn’t believe what Popeye said about spinach. I just thought it was part of the writing team’s creative way of defining Popeye in the cartoon. Well, it was. But, there was also truth it when Popeye said that his spinach made him stronger.

In honor of National Spinach Day, I’m here to tell ya that Popeye was right. According to EurkAlert, research done by Edith Cowan University, eating just one cup of spinach or leafy greens every day could boost muscle function by 11% compared to people who don’t. Even if they both exercised the same amount.

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The study found that diets high in nitrate-rich vegetables may increase your muscle strength by itself, without any physical activity, according to Dr. Marc Sim, the lead researcher from ECU’s Institute for Nutritional Research. That’s actually pretty amazing. Now, he adds that to optimize your muscle function, you need to combine your green leafy vegetables with regular exercise, including weight training.

Denis Radovanovic

The research found nitrate-rich vegetables, such as lettuce, spinach, kale and even beetroot, provided the greatest health benefits. Now, back in the day of Popeye, they didn’t talk about supplements like we do today. But, Dr. Sim did say that it’s better to eat nitrate-rich vegetables as part of a healthy diet rather than taking supplements.

Muscles aren’t just for looks. Muscle function is vital for maintaining good overall health, especially bone strength later in life. So throw some spinach in a pan with a little “Olive Oyl” for dinner every night.

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