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Nitrates - Why You Need Them and Where You Get Them

Brian Turner

Posted on June 14 2017

Nitrates and nitrites, found in beetroot juice and supplements, increase nitric oxide (NO) secretion. The capacity of the blood vessels to secrete nitric oxide is an important measure of cardiovascular health and performance. NO is secreted by the inner lining of blood vessels and is critical for controlling blood flow throughout the body. Increased nitrate intake improves running speed and efficiency in recreational distance runners. How can you increase your nitrate intake? A study of highly trained Dutch endurance athletes, led by Kristin Jonvik from the Institute of Sport and Exercise Studies at HAN University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands, found that their principal sources of dietary nitrates were lettuce and spinach, with contributions from various vegetables, potatoes and fruit. Beets are an excellent source of nitrates and the focus of most studies on nitrates, health and performance. Athletes should eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and consider purchasing a juicer to increase beet intake. (Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 27: 148-157, 2017)