Food Scientist Explains Popeye’s Superhuman Strength

“We saw drastic increases in maximum performance in bench press … ”

CNN – Cartoon character Popeye is known for munching endless cans of spinach to boost his strength, and new scientific research suggests he might have been onto something.

A study released by Freie Universitat Berlin suggests that ecdysterone, a chemical found in the leafy green vegetable, has a similar effect to steroids and should be added to the list of substances banned in sport, CNN affiliate RTL reported.

The researchers ran a study involving 46 athletes who trained three times per week for 10 weeks. Some were given ecdysterone and others a placebo.

Those who took ecdysterone saw their performance improve by three times as much as those who did not.

Researcher Maria Parr suggests WADA ban ecdysterone.

“We saw drastic increases in maximum performance in bench press in the group that took ecdysterone,” co-author Maria Parr, a doping researcher at the university’s Institute of Pharmacy, told CNN via telephone.

Researchers had expected to see some impact on performance, but were surprised by the extent of the change, she added.

The study was partly funded by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), and researchers recommend that ecydysterone be included on the agency’s banned list. Read more. 

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