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Heart Disease Health Center

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Leafy Greens May Cut Heart Attack Harm

Nutrients in Vegetables May Help Protect the Heart From Heart Attack Damage
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Nov. 16, 2007 -- Nitrites and nitrates, found in foods including leafy greens, may cut heart damage in a heart attack.

That news comes from lab tests in mice.

Some of the mice had their drinking water laced with nitrites or nitrates for a week. For comparison, other mice got ordinary drinking water.

After a week, the researchers gave the mice an induced heart attack in order to see how their hearts fared after the heart attack.

The hearts of mice in the nitrite or nitrate groups had less heart attack damage than the mice that had drunk plain water in the week before the induced heart attack.

Dietary sources of nitrites and nitrates included cauliflower, spinach, collard greens, broccoli, meat, and meat products.

The researchers included Nathan Bryan, PhD, of the University of Texas Houston Health Sciences Center and David Lefer, PhD, of New York's Albert Einstein School of Medicine.

In a news release, Bryan says the next step for researchers is to study nitrates and nitrites in people.

Lerner is a participant in a pending patent regarding the use of sodium nitrate in cardiovascular disease. Bryan serves on the scientific advisory board of the supplement company TriVita Inc.

Their study appears in this week's online early edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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