Yeah, yeah, yeah kale’s great and all, but let’s not forget spinach. Just because people aren’t baking it into six flavors of chips or sprinkling it on their popcorn doesn’t mean it should sink to the bottom of our collective produce bin. And while it might not instantly inflate your biceps a la Popeye, new research suggests spinach can help your body recover from intense exercise.
A new study measured the effects of daily spinach supplementation in a group of healthy young male runners. Researchers fund that subjects who took the spinach supps maintained lower levels of the compounds that indicate oxidative stress. The study appears in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness and was noted on foodconsumer.org.
For the study, 20 “well trained men” (we assume they’re referring to running, not being trained to put the seat down, etc.) took either a placebo or spinach (one gram per kg of body weight) for 14 days. Then, they ran 21 km.
After the run, researchers found that the levels of biomarkers that indicate muscle damage and oxidative stress were lower in the runners who had taken the spinach supplements.
They concluded that “chronic daily oral supplementation of spinach has alleviating effects on known markers of oxidative stress and muscle damage following a half-marathon in well trained healthy young men.”
Of course, the healing powers of spinach are not new. During World War I, medics gave wine fortified with spinach juice to French soldiers weakened by blood loss.
Weekend warriors may want to keep spinach supps in mind, as well as pycnogenol. The extract of the bark of French Maritime pine trees shows promise in helping athletes recover from workouts, according to another recent study.