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Muscles need spinach - not mustard

Fitness fanatics should reach for the mustard and NOT spinach if they want to look like Popeye
Fitness fanatics looking to build muscle should consider reaching for the mustard, a study has found.
The steroid homobrassinolide, found in the mustard plant, increases muscle mass, the size of muscle fibres and appetite, research suggests.
In addition, the effect when tested on rats was similar to anabolic steroids, which promote the growth of muscle and which are used illegally by athletes to improve performance.
A team of scientists exposed rat muscle cells to different amounts of homobrassinolide and measured protein synthesis – the process in which cells build proteins – in cell culture. The result was increased production – vital for building muscles – and decreased breakdown of protein in the cells.
Researcher Dr Slavo Komarnytsky, at North Carolina State University, said: ‘We hope that one day brassinosteroids may provide an effective, natural, and safe alternative for age and disease-associated muscle loss, or be used to improve endurance and physical performance.’
'Because some plants we eat contain these compounds, like mustards, in the future we may be able to breed or engineer these plants for higher brassinosteroid content, thus producing functional foods that can treat or prevent diseases and increase physical performance.'
Dr Gerald Weissmann, editor of the FASEB Journal, in which the study was published, added: 'The temptation is to see this discovery as another quick fix to help you go from fat to fit, and to a very small degree, this may be true.
‘This study identifies an important drug target for a wide range of conditions that cause muscle wasting.’
During the research healthy rats then received an oral dose of homobrassinolide daily for 24 days and changes in body weight, food consumption and body consumption were measured.
Rats receiving the steroid gained more weight and slightly increased their food intake.
Body composition was measured and showed increased lean body mass in the animals treated.
This study was repeated in rats fed high protein diets and similar results were seen.
Results also showed increased grip strength and an increase in the number and size of muscle fibres crucial for increased physical performance.

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