Nitrate-rich vegetables such as spinach, lettuce, radishes and beetroot help activate the stomach’s mucous membranes, thus reducing the risk of problems such as gastric ulcers, according to new research from Uppsala University.
Lead researcher Joel Petersson explains that bacteria in oral saliva help convert the vegetable nitrates into nitric oxide, which activates the protective mucous membrane in the stomach. The key role that oral bacteria plays in this process suggests that antibacterial mouthwashes may hamper the process. “If a mouthwash eliminates the bacterial flora in the mouth this may be important to the normal functioning of the stomach, as the protective levels of nitric oxide greatly decrease,” says Petersson.
This research is preliminary, so we’ll need to see if the weight of evidence supports it. But there’s no harm in enjoying five to 10 servings of fruit and veg a day.
Angel hair pasta with spinach pesto, anyone? I can’t get enough baby spinach, personally. What’s your favourite recipe?