Exercise, eat right, get enough sleep. These are but a few of the pillars of good health. But, did you know that what you eat can actually affect how your muscles respond to exercise? Here are 6 supergreens that have been shown to improve muscle health.

Spinach.  Spinach packs a powerful punch. If you’re consuming multiple cups of spinach a day — not unheard of with all of the green juices going around — the nitric oxide may allow your body to receive a better oxygen flow due to a widening of the lining of the blood vessels. One cup of spinach also provides your body with more iron than a 6 ounce burger. Eat a little or a lot, there are benefits to be had!

Arugula. Believe it or not, arugula may enhance your athleticism. It contains 3 different types of quercetin derivatives — which has been shown in research to possibly improve physical endurance. If you are in training, or just trying to become generally more fit, an arugula salad could be even more beneficial than you thought.

Romaine lettuce. Not only does the folate in romaine lettuce support heart health, it also contains manganese — a potent anti-inflammatory in the body. Both are essential components for healthy, responsive muscles and overall wellness.

Collard greens. With lots of vitamin C to stave off muscle soreness, collard greens don’t get enough credit in the leafy green community. Also high in folate, collard greens can assist in the development of red blood cells that help to carry oxygen-rich blood into muscles. Too little folate in your diet can cause muscle and mental fatigue, so be sure to eat your collards!

Swiss chard. The antioxidants found in Swiss chard can reduce muscle inflammation, thereby improving recovery time after workouts. Swiss chard contains high levels of both carotenoids and anthocyanins, which act in your body as powerful free-radical eradicators. This could mean that Swiss chard is helpful for anti-aging, effective against soreness, and could possibly make you more disease resistant. Make sure to consume your Swiss chard within 8 days — after that it begins to lose its antioxidant potency.

Kale. A cup of kale fulfills your daily needs for vitamin A, and contains a huge amount of disease-fighting compounds, like quercetin which increases endurance. Vitamin K, found in most leafy greens, promotes the flow of nutrients into muscles and the efficient discarding of waste by-products. (Check out this article for 17 delicious ways to use kale.)

There’s a reason why everyone tells you to eat your greens. They are filled with essential nutrients that are not only good for your muscles, but good for your overall wellbeing. Instead of eating the same greens all the time, try switching it up so that your body receives a wide spectrum of nutrients instead of a select few.

Source: Care2.com