spinach extract improves muscle strength and quality

Faced with danger, Popeye would pull out his spinach and watch his muscles grow. You can too! But just do the spinach; skip the danger.

Can spinach really boost your muscles? Research has suggested that supplementing spinach really can help your muscles. At least it did for a bunch of marathon runners. When they took spinach supplements for two weeks before running a marathon, they had significantly higher antioxidant capacity after the marathon than the runners in the placebo group. Markers of muscle damage and free radical damage also stayed at lower levels after the run than they did in the runners who took a placebo whose levels went way up. So spinach can protect you and your muscles from damage after exercise (J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2015 Jun ;55(6):609-14). That’s one for Popeye!

But that’s not all. When cyclists took red spinach extract for a week before a time trial and again one hour before the test, they had greater improvement in speed and power than a placebo group. They also had lower post-exercise blood pressure. The spinach extract may have helped women more than men (J Strength Cond Res. 2021 Sep 1;35(9):2541-2545).

Now a just published study adds more strength to the evidence that spinach makes you stronger. The study was a 12 week double-blind study. It gave either a placebo or 500mg of spinach extract four times a day to adults who were over 50 who were on a moderate-intensity training program.

Muscle strength improved in both groups—because they were both training—but it improved significantly more in the spinach group. Muscle quality also improved more in the spinach group. The spinach supplement was safe with no adverse events.

So Popeye was right! Spinach does build muscle and make you strong.

Nutrients. 2021 Dec 6;13(12):4373

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