The green secret to stopping a heart attack

It's almost as powerful as a drug, triggering immediate changes inside your body that can protect your heart... stop an attack before it happens... and even prevent a stroke.

But you won't find this one in a pill bottle. You'll find it at the end of a salad fork!

Make sure you have some greens on the side with every meal.

I'm sure you know how they're healthy in the "overall" sense, packing some of the essential nutrients you need each day. But now, the latest research goes a step further.

It shows how some greens can do something even more important than ensuring you're covered in certain vitamins and minerals.

They're loaded with nitrate, which sets off a process that unfolds inside your body about as quickly as you can chew your food.

Once those greens are in your mouth, the bacteria that live on your tongue immediately get to work.

It has to be immediate. How long does each bite stay in your mouth for -- mere seconds, right?

In that short space of time, those bacteria break down the nitrate to form nitrite, which slips into your bloodstream and helps to reduce blood pressure and improve circulation.

The result?

Over 15 years, women with the highest levels of nitrate-rich veggies in their diet are 40 percent less likely to die of heart disease or stroke, according to the study from Australia's Edith Cowan University.

It doesn't take much to get these benefits yourself.

The study finds that just a touch over 2.5 ounces a day -- roughly a cup of most salad greens -- will give you enough nitrate to protect yourself.

The veggies with the highest levels of nitrate are the ones that form the basis of any decent salad: spinach, lettuce, and kale. You can have just one, or you can mix all three together.

Want to add a little more taste and get more heart-protecting nitrate at the same time? Toss in some radish, beetroot, and celery, which are the next-biggest sources of the stuff.

Just make sure you eat them and eat them daily, because there aren't exactly plenty of options when it comes to getting the nitrate that leads to nitrite.

Roughly 80 percent of the nitrate in your diet comes from greens.

If you're not eating greens, you're not getting it, plain and simple -- and that means you could be putting your heart at risk without even realizing it.