Do you know the most important vegetables to be eating to protect your heart? You may be surprised with the answer.

Some interesting studies appeared in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and the journal called Stroke. We all know vegetables are good for us, and eating a lot of them helps to protect your heart. Some vegetables are better than others in this regard, because of their high levels of nitrate.

Nitrate is widely found in nature and it is required for plant growth. Some plants are much higher in nitrate than others. Researchers looked at the diet of more than 1000 women in Western Australia, specifically looking at their nitrate intake from vegetables. The researchers discovered that over a 15 year period, the women who consumed the most nitrate had a 40 percent lower incidence of fatal heart disease or stroke.

Leafy green vegetables are high in nitrate. The vegetables found to be most beneficial in this study were spinach, lettuce, kale, radishes, beets and celery. How many of these vegetables have you eaten over the previous few days?

In the study, one cup of these vegetables eaten each day was sufficient to provide these benefits. Of course, more would be better, and juicing the vegetables concentrates all of their beneficial compounds. That’s why I’m such a fan of raw vegetable juices.

Why is nitrate so good for your heart? The bacteria that live on your tongue convert nitrate into nitrite. Nitrite relaxes and dilates your arteries. Therefore it makes sure your blood pressure doesn’t get too high. High blood pressure is the biggest risk factor for heart attacks and strokes. Interestingly, if you use mouthwash, you kill the good bacteria that produce nitrite. You may want to reconsider using mouthwash if you have high blood pressure. Magnesium is the other critical compound for ensuring healthy blood pressure. It too relaxes your arteries, and helps to reduce stress and tension.