A compound found in spinach could be added to the banned substance list by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). Let’s say that an athlete fails a drugs test and blames it on eating an obscene amount of spinach… well that could be the case. The compound found in spinach has displayed ‘steroid’ like effects highlighting that perhaps it should be added to WADA’s list of banned substances in sport.

New Banned Substance Found In Spinach

What’s The Substance?

After a study, scientists at the Freie Universität Berlin have recommended that ecdysterone, a chemical found in spinach, should be added to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) list of banned doping substances.

Why Is It Banned?

The university’s Institue of Pharmacy conducted a 10 week study with 46 athletes on a strength training programme to observe how the substance affected their physical performance. Some participants were given placebos, whilst others were given capsules containing ecdysterone containing the equivalent amount that would be found if you ate 4kg of raw spinach a day.

WADA supported the study and it was found that those taking the capsules containing ecdysterone supplement saw their physical strength increase three times as much as those taking the placebo. Whilst it was expected that those taking the capsule would see an increase in performance, the improvement was not expected to be so great.

Could You Use This To Your Advantage?

I would assume that since WADA was indirectly involved in the study, ecdysterone will be banned. However, that does not mean you can’t eat spinach. Whilst I wouldn’t recommend trying to ‘push the bar’ and force feed yourself 4kg of spinach daily, I’d say the results of this study suggest that adding an ample amount of spinach to your diet (300g – 500g daily) could aid your performance by helping to pack on lean muscle mass.

What’s Next?

Before ecdysterone is banned, it’s likely a few more studies will be performed so there is further conclusive evidence on the effects of ecdysterone. The chances of someone being banned or caught in a drugs test for taking ecdysterone is rather limited since it’s highly unlikely anyone would be eating 4kg of spinach without knowing the ‘steroid-like’ effects and it will probably take some time before WADA know how to identify whether someone’s urine or blood contains ecdysterone.

That said, spinach is a great vegetable to add to your diet and I’d recommend you do so as it a good source of iron in plants.


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