Leafy greens help protect vascular health

Disorders of vascular diseases are common nowadays and can lead to heart attacks and strokes.

Updated: Mar 24, 2011, 18:59 PM IST

Washington: Researchers have suggested that patients suffering from vascular disorders might benefit from leafy greens as it could help increase the availability of nitric oxide (NO).

Disorders of the circulatory system- vascular diseases- are common nowadays, and can lead to heart attacks, strokes and even death.

However, treatments for these disorders, such as bypass surgery and angioplasty, themselves induce vascular injury, after which the cells of the blood vessel can over-proliferate in a way that limits blood flow.

NO is an important molecule that helps maintain the contractility and health of vascular smooth muscle cells, and multiple studies have linked vascular pathology to a decreased level of NO.

Therefore, therapies that increase the availability of NO could help protect vascular health.

Now, Brian Zuckerbraun of the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and colleagues have discovered that after vessel injury in rat, the NOS pathway is disrupted, but a secondary pathway that generates NO from nitrate is activated.

Furthermore, supplementing rats with nitrate before inducing vessel injury markedly limited the extent of the damage, while a diet low in nitrate exacerbated it.

John Cooke and Yohannes Ghebremariam of Stanford University, California, pointed out that high levels of dietary nitrate might in part explain the vascular benefits of diets rich in leafy greens.

They, however, cautioned that high dose supplementation could lead to the generation of carcinogenic molecules.

ANI