Can Eating This Prevent Vascular Disease?

You already know that leafy greens are packed with vitamins A, C, K, and nutrients like calcium, folate, and iron and that eating plenty of lettuce, arugula, broccoli, collard greens, kale, and spinach can help reduce high blood pressure. Now a new study is showing that there may be added heart benefits to including these foods in your daily diet.

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh found that supplementing laboratory rats with a diet high in nitric oxide before inducing vessel injury, greatly limited the extent of damage to their circulatory system. The circulatory system is made up of vessels that carry blood to every part of the body. Any condition that affects your circulatory system is called a vascular disease. 

  • Vascular diseases, which include peripheral artery disease and aneurysm, are common in the U.S. and can lead to heart attacks, strokes, and death.

Nitric oxide helps maintain smooth muscle cells in the vascular system and protects vascular health. High levels of dietary nitrate, the kind found in dark, leafy vegetables, say researchers, may explain the vascular benefits, but warn against using dietary supplements containing nitrate.

Preventing Vascular Disease

If you have diabetes or a family history of vascular disease, you are at an increased risk of developing the condition. Get an assessment from your doctor on your risk factors and ask what you can do to reduce those factors.

These tips will reduce your risk of developing vascular disease:

  • Quit smoking. Smoking raises your risk for heart disease by roughly 100 percent for each pack of cigarettes you smoke each day.
  • Get regular exercise. Exercise helps strengthen your cardiovascular system and lowers your blood pressure. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise, most days of the week.
  • Eat a healthy diet. In addition to eating plenty of leafy green vegetables and lots of fresh fruits, follow a diet that is low in sodium and saturated fat. Try to limit your fat calories to less than 30 percent of the total amount of calories you take in each day.

If making these lifestyle changes are not enough to reduce vascular disease risk, your doctor may prescribe medication to improve your heart health, including drugs to lower your cholesterol level or to treat high blood pressure. It's also possible your doctor will prescribe a daily low-dose aspirin to reduce your risk of stroke or heart attack.

Medical News Today. "Vascular Disease And Why Salad Helps You Say Yes To 'NO.'" "Vascular Disease: How to Prevent Coronary Artery Disease, Heart Attack and Stroke."