Load up on that spinach because leafy greens can make you walk faster??

We know leafy greens are great, but a new study has shown they offer tremendous support for one part of the body in particular.

Just one cup of leafy green vegetables a day could boost muscle function, especially in your legs, according to a new study from Edith Cowan University.

In data obtained from 3,759 Australians participating in Melbourne’s Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute AusDiab study over a 12-year-period, researchers found that diets high in nitrate–a key nutrient in veggies like spinach, rocket, fennel, for example–had 11 percent stronger lower limbs than those with low nitrate intake.

Perhaps most strikingly, the study showed that a diet high in nitrate improved walking speed by up to 4 percent.

Like what you see? Sign up to our bodyandsoul.com.au newsletter for more stories like this.

Poor muscle function is linked to a greater risk of suffering fractures and falls, and it’s a key indicator of general good health. This is particularly important for Aussies over 65.

“Our study has shown that diets high in nitrate-rich vegetables may bolster your muscle strength independently of any physical activity,” lead researcher Dr. Marc Sim said.

“Nevertheless, to optimise muscle function we propose that a balanced diet rich in green leafy vegetables in combination with regular exercise, including weight training, is ideal.”

So, if you’re one of the 9 out of 10 Aussies not eating the recommended six serves of vegetables a day, listen up: lettuce, spinach, kale and even beetroot, provided the greatest health benefits when it comes to muscle function.

The study builds on previous research conducted by Dr. Sim, who found that leafy greens were vital in maintaining muscle strength and mobility older women.

“In our study, we found that eating one cup of spinach, rocket or lettuce a day may increase grip strength by up to 2kg and improve TUG time by up to 1.6 seconds,” he said at the time.