While it's long been known that diets rich in leafy greens may lead to better health, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have explained what exactly the nitric oxide (NO) contained within the vegetables does for the body.
The team of scientists found that NO has the ability to maintain healthy, flexible vascular smooth muscle cells, which helps improve blood flow. They noted that problems with the vascular system have often been linked to a deficiency in the molecule.
In a rat study, the researchers discovered that when a vessel is damaged, the usual pathway for NO synthesis is shut down. However, the body responds by activating a secondary avenue for NO generation, suggesting that the molecule is integral to vessel repair.
Moreover, it was observed that rats with vascular damage that were supplemented with NO experienced fewer complications than rodents that were deprived of the compound.
Researchers from Stanford University warned that oversupplementation of NO may lead to the formation of carcinogenic molecules, so individuals should stick to vegetables like kale and collard greens.