Why green leafy vegetables can protect liver health

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Why green leafy vegetables can protect liver health

Inorganic nitrate, a compound present in celery, spinach, and rocket, may protect against nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, a new study shows.

Green leafy vegetables, such as lettuce and spinach, contain high concentrations of nitrate, a compound that may keep fatty liver at bay.

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), or liver steatosis, is a condition in which fat builds up in the liver. Between 30 and 40 percent of adults in the United States are living with NAFLD.

The condition is one of the most commoncauses of chronic liver disease in Western countries, and experts associate it with obesity, being overweight, and metabolic risk factors.

Currently, there are no approved treatments for NAFLD, which can progress into more serious conditions, such as steatohepatitis, fibrosis, and cirrhosis. Healthcare professionals recommend losing weight, making healthful food choices, and doing more physical activity to reduce fat in the liver.

New research, however, may pave the way for a new treatment. Scientists at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have just published a study in which they show that inorganic nitrate — a compound that occurs naturally in green leafy vegetables — can reduce the buildup of fat in the liver.

Mattias Carlström, an associate professor in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology at the Karolinska Institutet is one of the senior researchers and corresponding authors of the study.

Inorganic nitrate is key for liver health

Carlström and colleagues studied the effects of supplementing a high-fat, high-sugar Western diet with dietary nitrate in mice.

They divided the mice into three groups and fed each of them a different diet. The control group received a normal diet, while the high-fat diet group ate the equivalent of a Western diet, and the third group received a high-fat diet with nitrate supplementation.


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