Doctor's Note

Nitrates are one of the reasons I recommend eating dark green leafy vegetables every day. Beets are another good option (not just drinking the juice—see my last video Whole Beets vs. Juice for Improving Athletic Performance).

What else can we do for high blood pressure? See:

Why is blood flow to the brain so important? I go into depth on the potential consequences of impaired flow in Alzheimer’s and Atherosclerosis of the Brain.

More on diet and pelvic blood flow in men here:

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  • nodelord

    would I get the same effects if I were to eat Watercress or Arugula?

    • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

      They just may! Check out the bottom comment by Darrly he posted a list of veggies high in nitrate.

  • Noe Marcial

    excellent! after your first video on beetroot and oxygen efficiency I began to give a shake of beet to my Grand mother in the morning (she is suffering from high blood pressure and dementia..) but after few week i just stop.. and now i think i will came back with the reed shakes mornings..
    it is any unsafe quantity? to beets a days can bee to much or have a side effect? thank you!

    • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

      I’ve never heard of overdosing on beets. The more the merrier, but keep in mind stool and urine may change color.

      • Jiwon Yeom

        How about oxalate overdosing by beet root?

        • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

          Yes, perhaps. Especially if someone is at higher risk for stones or has a kidney disease.

  • Noe Marcial

    what if you eat beets every day for a year… does the body get use to NO in the blood and this boosting in the metabolism of oxigen will then go down again or it will maintain high as long as you are eating greens and beets? thank you!

  • Misterimpatient

    Right now, my breakfast includes blueberries and banana. A change to blueberries and beets seems in order. I’ll have to read the studies to understand the dosing requirements.

  • mbglife

    I’m still confused on a point. Does eating a cooked beet or two provide the same results or does it need to be beet juice? If both work is one better than the other?

  • Tere Kaulfus

    I’d love to know the source of the beet juice used in these studies. Is this a bottled product, or are they making their own from fresh beets?

    • Noeb49

      YES! I’d love to know this as well! Also would like to know the minimum quantity of beet juice necessary daily to get the benefit.

      • Shawna Nielsen

        two small to medium beets works well for me. I have an oxygen inhibiting muscle disease dermatomyositis

    • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

      From the abstrct it doesn’t say. “Dietary nitrate (250 mL daily, as beetroot juice) or a placebo (250 mL daily, as nitrate-free beetroot juice.” The study is free to read! I suggest checking out their methods section as it may explain more? http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25421976

      • Tom Goff

        I spend a fair part of the year in apart of the world where beetroot is pretty much unobtainable. I try to take some beetroot powder with me but do not know if this is effective. Is there any information on the effects of consuming beetroot powder?

        • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

          Gosh I have no idea! I’ll look into but give me some time please (like a week). Thanks, Tom! Does anyone else know the answer or have any research?

        • Rosemary Guy

          there are other ways to get NO like green leafy veg so it doesn’t need to be beets

    • Ⓥince Green

      “All tests were performed at the William Harvey Clinical Research Centre. 34 drug-naïve and 34 treated patients with hypertension were randomized to receive either 4-weeks daily supplementation with dietary nitrate (250mL beetroot juice, James White Drinks Ltd., Ipswich, UK) or placebo (250mL nitrate-depleted beetroot juice25, James White Drinks Ltd., Ipswich, UK).”

    • Becky Hansen Carlin

      Its pretty easy to roast them.

  • HemoDynamic, MD – NF Volunteer

    “3 weeks of ‘Beeting’ themselves up. . .”
    Love it! You can’t beet that :)

  • Wade Patton

    Beets, it’s what’s for dinner.

    • Jason Smith

      I have never like this veggie but if it live up to this info well it time to treat it like meds yes sir.

      • Bruce Cropley

        I wasn’t into it either for many years. I suggest you try having it cooked in different ways (i.e. not tinned) e.g. roasted or raw blended into a smoothie or juiced, with other ingredients. Nowadays I don’t mind it at all. Good luck :)

      • Penxx

        Have you ever tried them pickled? Yum. I make soup from golden beets but I’m unsure if they provide the same benefit.

      • Becky Hansen Carlin

        Roasted beets taste better!

  • Darryl

    For those who don’t care for beets, or concerned about high Aze intake, there are plenty of alternatives. From: Santamaria et al. 1999. A survey of nitrate and oxalate content in fresh vegetables :

    mean mg nitrate/kg (fresh)
    Rocket 2597
    Swiss chard 2363
    Radish 2067
    Spinach 1845
    Kohlrabi 1769
    Beetroot 1727
    Celery 1678
    Romaine lettuce 1241
    Parsley 1150
    Butterhead lettuce 1089
    Broccoli raab 905
    Crisphead lettuce 581
    Asparagus 498
    Green onion 410
    Fennel 363
    Endive 224
    Cauliflower 202
    Carrot 195
    Broccoli 154
    Potato 81
    Sweet potato 54
    Bulb Garlic 34
    Onion 32
    Savoy cabbage 29
    ‘Radicchio’ 12

    • Gary

      The radish and beets are back on my grocery list!

    • Thea

      As a beet “hater”, thank you so much for this list! So, helpful!!

      • Charzie

        Ever try ’em in a smoothie Thea? If you don’t use too many they actually aren’t too bad and blend nicely!

        • Jason Smith

          That will be my route at first any way thats the way I got spinach down now its my new lettuce got to start somewhere.

          • Charzie

            Good for you Jason! Tastes can change when you keep an open mind, mine sure have! Anything we can do to get the good stuff into us, and smoothies are such a great way to sneak in things we would have never even considered otherwise. It amazes me sometimes how well they come out when you just toss stuff all together. Who woulda thunk it? lol

        • Thea

          Charzie: I haven’t yet, but it sounds like a good idea. It seems like they would add a very nice color as well as not be too overpowering in the context of a smoothie.

          • Charzie

            Yes, they sure do make a pretty color! Even my picky 7 y.o. granddaughter got past her aversions when we made a pretty fuchsia smoothie with spinach, cukes, celery, avocado, watermelon, grapes, lots of berries and some dates and beets!

      • HaltheVegan

        Thea, Here’s a link to a previous video where nitrate content of foods are compared: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/vegetables-rate-by-nitrate/ Rhubarb came in number 2 in this list. Hope this helps.

        • Thea

          HaltheVegan: Oh ya! I totally forgot about that video. Great find. Thanks for pointing it out.

    • Theresa A

      My son loves to nosh on fresh radishes…also..Rocket is Arugula for you like me who did not realize or remember that. lol….

      • Jason Smith

        Thanks I had not a clue good info. All of this!

    • S Slavin

      Wonder if there’s an absorption difference here, or some other synergy going on…otherwise why are Beets getting all the attention in relation to NO?

      • RogerComstock

        Not sure why Beets get all the attention, but for practical reasons beets are among the highest dietary source given the volumes typically consumed I would think – people who like beets would likely get through 250 grams of Beets in a sitting than 250 grams of Arugula, for example.

    • Charzie

      You are the bomb Darryl! Thanks. By the way for those who didn’t know, that “rocket” at the top of the list is also known as arugula, my current fave sprout or micro veggie, since it doesn’t appreciate the heat here now, and I can’t afford to buy it! I always feel compelled to share the “grow some food yourself” message…you know what you are getting when you do, and it’s fun (and exercise too when you garden), even just in pots on a balcony!

    • Psych MD

      Darryl, great list. I eat celery dipped in hummus every day for lunch. I like beets and was planning to pick some up, but since the difference between beets and celery appears to be minimal and the hospital dietary service delivers a fresh batch to my office every week, along with carrots, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, and jicama I should be in good shape without them. Thanks.

    • siriusfarm

      Thanks for posting this list! So many delicious options!

    • mbglife

      Darryl, thanks for the list. That aze linked info is kind of creepy, especially since there’s no conclusion for humans. What else has aze?

      • Darryl

        I came across Aze in some reviews on the BMAA/ALS story. Like BMAA and L-dopa, Aze is a proteomimetic, in Aze’s case closely resembling proline, and Dr. Edward Rubenstein’s hypothesis is that misincorporation of Aze into myelin basic protein plays a role in multiple sclerosis pathogenesis (1, 2, 3, 4, 5). Beets are the only common dietary vegetable containing significant Aze (at about a 1:20 ratio to proline), but because sugar beet molasses and pulp are common animal feeds, there’s potential for biomagnification in meat and dairy.

        • mbglife

          Thanks, Darryl. You’re a great resource and asset to the forum!

    • Don Casto

      Thanks!

  • dogulas

    Does boiling greens destroy most of the nitrate? What if I keep the water, like in a soup?

  • dogulas

    Joseph, could you help me understand this? I just watched this video http://nutritionfacts.org/video/testing-your-diet-with-pee-purple-cabbage/

    So why is it that osteoporosis is worst in the most affluent countries? This video seems to be saying that meat and dairy consumption doesn’t do anything to cause weaker bones. Why is there less osteoporosis in populations that consume less meat and dairy?

  • Fancy Nancy

    Do golden beets work as well as pink beets?

  • Wade Patton

    I’ve always liked pickled beets. Do they contain the same or similar level of nitrates? anyone? thanks much.

  • vegank

    Could Beets also improve children’s executive functioning (eg neurological disorders) ?

  • Fred

    As you might guess…here’s an NO supplement:

    http://www.swansonvitamins.com/swanson-ultra-fast-acting-beet-root-no-60-chwbls

    I’ve tried it…works maybe like viagra…but haven’t tried the former.

    If you are out on a date…you could try getting out a can of beets….or take a couple of these?

    Do I care whether you try these? No. Just information…which is the new crime. Don’t give them information…you never know what they will do with it!

  • Annetha

    Nitrates are increasing in surface waters such as the Great Lakes, source of drinking water for millions. One reason is that we remove phosphates, but not nitrates, from sewage. Sounds like amounts in Great Lakes (~.3 mg/L) don’t approach that of many vegetables.

    There must be an upper level for safe ingestion of nitrates, though? I seem to recall a rat study and one on cattle grazing N-fertilized fields. (The cattle had problems, not consumers.) Just wondering.

    http://www3.epa.gov/grtlakes/monitoring/limnology/index.html#NOx

  • Saberjim

    I tried a cup of RAW beet juice for a week a year or so ago and it lowered my systolic at least 10mm/hg. Didn’t continue because I was concerned about the amount of sugar and glycemic effect.
    It would be helpful of the staff posts would indicate whether the medium used was raw, cooked, canned, whole beet or juice. Perhaps all are equally effective.

    • S Slavin

      A similar study cited in this video ( http://nutritionfacts.org/video/whole-beets-vs-juice-for-improving-athletic-performance/ ) used baked beets and similar oxygenating effects so perhaps the BP benefits are retained in baked beets as well.

      Would love a solid answer myself.

      How many beets did it take to make a cup of raw beet juice? A drop of 10 points is quite significant! What was the number before the drop if you don’t mind me asking?

      • jim flint

        As I recall about 6/8 med sized beets in a juicer made a pint or so. I think now I would not discard the fiber but use it in a smoothie or go for the whole, cooked beets. I am going to try it with my swim routine for comparison. Other nitrate sources sound good also for a mix.

  • Rodrigo Cardoso

    Legendado em Português / Translated to Portuguese:
    http://nf.focoempatico.net/oxigenar-sangue-vegetais-ricos-nitratos/

  • Philip1

    I didn’t think I could beet arugula for nutrition.

  • Lauri Pratt

    I have been eating a plant based diet for 19 months (loving it!), and met with my diabetes educator yesterday (I am a type 1 diabetic) and also have RA (but zero symptoms since being plant based). She told me that I should not eat beans, because they cause inflammation. Bad news for me, because beans have become one of my favorite protein and comfort foods. Is this true?

    • guest

      Depends on if you believe the paleo crowd or not. Paleo says so but other people don’t. Even non-vegetarians say that legumes are anti-inflammatory. Beans and legumes are truly a fountain of youth anti-inflammatory food because they are bursting with inflammation-reducing antioxidants and phytonutrients as well as being one of the richest sources of fiber on the planet.

    • Timar

      Short answer: no. Stay away from such bad advice that is based on ill-conceived dogmas and not on science.

  • taurus1947

    Is It raw or cook beets

  • unf13

    I love beets but i’ve heard they contain a decent amount of sugar (something like 8 grams per 100 grams of beets) thus they can promote Candida yeast growth in the guts.

  • Rosemary Guy

    wondering if you could get an accumulative effect by doing some tai chi and drinking beet juice

  • Tom Goff

    Here’s a balanced assessment of beetroot benefits from a UK government website:
    http://www.nhs.uk/livewell/superfoods/pages/is-beetroot-a-superfood.aspx

  • David Colin

    I’m a little confused by this:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/22882425/
    Are too many nitrate rich vegetables harmful? These researchers created an acceptable daily intake of nitrate rich vegetable. I would have thought the more, the better? Help, confused!

    • S Slavin

      Well the only real negative I see mentioned (skimmed it VERY briefly – would love it if someone took a more detailed look!) is a cancer risk, and that seems to mention nitrites in meat products – which Dr. Gregor explained ( http://nutritionfacts.org/video/are-nitrates-pollutants-or-nutrients/ ) turn into the “bad” stuff (nitrosamines was it?), whereas nitrates in fruits/veggies turn into nitrites and then NO (something like that..?).

      This is why even “no nitrate” hot dogs are considered “bad” because they still often add nitrites from celery which, in the presence of meat, apparently act the same as the added nitrates.

  • David Colin

    I was watching one of Dr Greger’s earlier videos re: the nitrate/nitrite/nitric oxide pathway which mentioned briefly the role of the proton pump. That got me wondering if proton pump inhibitors would be associated with adverse cardiac events, so I Googled it, and indeed, PPIs are indeed associated with adverse cardiac events for this reason (as well as another interconnected reason). See:

    http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/129/13/e426.full.pdf and

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4105215/

    Not only that, some people are taking PPIs together with NSAIDs to protect their stomachs (see Dr Greger’s video “Anti Inflammatory Life is a Bowl of Cherries”). Since NSAIDs are also associated with cardiovascular problems, taking these two drugs concurrently could be a double dose of deadliness for your heart.

  • robrands

    Canned beans have a similar nutritional profile as dried beans. Do canned beets also have a similar nutritional profile to fresh beets?

    • David Colin

      I read in a forum online that someone tweeted one of the researchers who did some of the groundbreaking research on beets and athletic performance. Apparently he said boiling beets boils away the nitrate content. Best to steam or bake. I cut in quarters and steam for 15-20 minutes.

  • Joy Schwabach

    Why are meat nitrates bad for you if veggie nitrates are good for you? Thanks! I love this site and am a happy vegan. Hubby likes nitrates.

    • Thea

      Joy: See if the following video answers your question.
      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/is-bacon-good-or-is-spinach-bad/

      Also note that this video is part of a really great series on the topic. So, to get a bigger understanding, I recommend clicking ‘previous video’ until you get to the beginning of the series and watch through.

      After you watch, let us know: Will your hubby be convinced?

      • Joy Schwabach

        Thanks Thea! I shouldn’t have criticized hubby. He used to eat nitrite-laded hot dogs but he doesn’t any more.

  • Kelly

    You say nitrates are good for us, so why are nitrates in hot dogs bad for us…or has that idea been discredited?

    • Thea

      Kelly: The following video starts to answer that question. Watch this intro and then keep clicking ‘next video’ until your question is answered. Alternatively, note that the following video is actually in the middle of the series. So, you could keep clicking ‘previous video’ until you get to the start of series and then go forward from there.

      Is Bacon Good Or Is Spinach Bad?
      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/is-bacon-good-or-is-spinach-bad/

  • Netgeogate

    Would chronic supplementation with nitrate rich foods like beets, spinach or antioxidants possibly cause nitrate tolerance? And if so, which dosage would prevent this…

  • Gumbootgoddess

    I eat beets regularly along with the rest of the veggie rainbow. However for the first time this winter I have developed Reynauds Syndrome. Does anyone have any thoughts on this? Any research Dr Greger?

  • Robert Haile

    The organic beets in Costa Rica are amazingly red, and we have great arugula but it does not store as long.

  • Vegan4health

    When I lived in Egypt I found a delicious green called gargeer. It was said to be “good for men” ;-) when I returned to USA I discovered that gargeer was arugula and it is indeed “good for men” ! Ps. I’m not a man I just love greens and have a lot of respect for wisdom that came to be from observation over long periods of time.

  • xian wu

    Why am I supposed to avoid nitrates in meat (processed), but I should seek more nitrates in vegetables (like beets)?

    • Thea

      xian: That is a fair question. Lots of people have that question and Dr. Greger started to answer it in this video: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/is-bacon-good-or-is-spinach-bad/ Watch this one and then keep clicking “Next Video” button until you get your answer. You can also keep clicking the Previous Video if you want to start from the beginning of the series.

  • Shawna Nielsen

    Beet juice works amazingly well for my Dermatomyositis a muscle disease with decreased capillary flow. I figured it out while juicing before all the hype. Then i saw the science…

  • John Axsom

    I used to hate beets. If I ate just one bite of cooked beets I would gag. I tried beet juice and just about threw up. HOWEVER, I have slowly learned to eat RAW whole beets. I just ate a little bit with each meal, now I can eat a whole beet root with a meal, and strangely, I am now really like the taste of raw beets. I haven’t ventured into cooked beets or beet juice because of my reaction to them in the past. I think I will just stick with whole raw beets.

    • Thea

      John Axsom: I’m so glad you shared this story. I was just in a big conversation with someone the other day about how tastes can change. This is a great example.

      Like you, I have found that I prefer some veggies cooked and others raw. I think Dr. Greger would say, “Which way is healthiest? The one that you will eat!”

      If you ever get brave enough in a year or so to sample a small amount of cooked beet, I would be curious to hear if your reaction changed since you’ve acclimated yourself to the raw stuff. I have found that even though I *hated* cooked carrots as a kid and while I still don’t love them, I have developed a much bigger tolerance/less dislike of them since I started eating a lot more raw carrots. Just sharing.