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Liver protection: Green leafy vegetables like spinach or arugula protect us from fatty liver


Salad can prevent fatty liver

Obesity, alcohol, medication and diabetes can make the liver fat. Almost every third adult in Germany has a so-called fatty liver. This is the main risk factor for the development of dangerous liver cirrhosis or liver cancer. There is currently no recognized treatment. However, a Swedish research team recently found that lettuce and green leafy vegetables can protect against fatty liver.

In a recent study, researchers at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden found that inorganic nitrate from green leafy vegetables reduces the accumulation of fat in the liver. This is an important discovery because there is currently no therapy for fatty liver. The research results were recently presented in the technical journal "PNAS".

Fatty liver - the silent suffering

Our liver suffers in silence with dramatic consequences. The fatty liver is an extremely common complaint. Almost every third adult in industrialized countries is affected, according to the German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD). The disease often remains undetected. A feeling of pressure in the right upper abdomen, chronic fatigue and difficulty concentrating can indicate fatty liver. If the liver is fatty, serious secondary diseases such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, cirrhosis of the liver, liver cancer, heart attack or stroke are at risk.

Nitrate lowers the amount of fat in the liver

A larger proportion of green leafy vegetables in the diet can reduce the risk of liver steatosis or fatty liver. The Swedish research team comes to this result in its studies on mice. "When we gave dietary nitrate to mice that were previously fed high in fat and sugar, we noticed a significantly lower level of fat in the liver," said Professor Mattias Carlström of the Karolinska Institutet in a press release on the study results. The researchers confirmed these findings in two different cell culture studies on human liver cells.

Can Salad Help Prevent Type 2 Diabetes?

In addition to a lower risk of fatty liver disease, the team also observed lower blood pressure and improved blood sugar regulation in mice with type 2 diabetes. According to the researchers, the healing effects of green leafy vegetables are associated with the reduction of oxidative stress. This arises when so-called free radicals form in the body. These are highly reactive molecules that bind to all possible body cells and damage them. “We believe that these diseases are linked by similar mechanisms in which oxidative stress affects the signaling of nitric oxide,” said Dr. Carlström.

Green leafy vegetables reduce oxidative stress

"We are now showing an alternative way of producing nitric oxide, which can convert more nitrate in our diet to nitric oxide in our body," explains the professor. So far, nobody has focused on nitrate in research. However, according to the Swedish research team, this is the key to liver health. The team now plans to conduct a clinical trial to clearly demonstrate that nitrate can protect against fatty liver.

200 grams of green leafy vegetables daily

Swedish researchers explain that more studies are needed to clearly confirm the role of nitrate. Nevertheless, they already advise you to eat more green leafy vegetables. Salad, spinach and arugula in particular are particularly rich in nitrates. "The protective effects observed can be achieved with around 200 grams of leaf vegetables rich in nitrates per day," emphasizes Carlström. He regrets that too many people don't eat enough vegetables these days. (vb)

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