In the context of a healthy plant-based diet, the nitrates in vegetables can safely be converted into nitric oxide, which can boost athletic performance and may help prevent heart disease.
Why don’t those carcinogenic nitrosamines form in our stomachs from all the nitrites coming off our tongue? Because, our body’s not stupid and actively secretes vitamin C into our stomach juices to prevent that kind of thing from happening.
That makes sense, right? Why would our body go out its way to evolve this elaborate double pass mechanism to produce lots of nitrite if it was harmful. As one group of researchers noted, If nitrite were, indeed, [itself] a carcinogen, we would be advised to avoid swallowing because saliva contains so much….
So the way we are able to safely produce nitric acid from nitrites is by smuggling it into our bodies in safe nitrate plant form. Plants come prepackaged with just what the body needs to keep their nitrates from becoming carcinogenic
The bottom line is that whopping doses of nitrates, from vegetables, is likely to improve athletic performance and blood pressure without increasing cancer risk as long as it’s done in the context of a healthy plant-based diet. As long as there’s fat-free phytonutrients physically in your stomach for three or four hours after we nitrate load, the nitrites produced will zip through our system and feed our muscles and vessels with nitric oxide. And it doesn’t take much—like 20 mg of vitamin C is all you need in your stomach to block nitrosamine production. That’s like 2 stawberries, a little stalk of broccoli, or slice of bell pepper. Our bodies may have evolved getting about 600 a day! If you’re out cycling green tea would probably be the most convenient.
There isn’t any vitamin C in beet juice, though, so just sipping beet juice all day is probably not the best route, though there might be other phytonutrients in it that will serve the purpose. That’s something we still don’t know. But a big arugula salad has as much nitrate as a cup of beet juice, and in addition, the requisite dose of vitamin C. Whole foods are always preferable, but if you do decide to juice your own you beets you should add some greens or something so throughout the day you can maximize nitric acid production while minimizing any risk.
To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Dianne Moore.
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And finally, the finale. It all started with Doping With Beet Juice. Then an exploration of the mechanism in Priming the Proton Pump and Don’t Use Antiseptic Mouthwash. The real-world confirmation in Out of the Lab and Onto the Track. Then off on an interesting tangent in Asparagus Pee and Pretty In Pee-nk. The heart-healthy benefits of vegetable nitrates in Hearts Shouldn’t Skip a Beet and then where to find the most in Vegetables Rate by Nitrate. Then a seven-video journal to explain Is Bacon Good Or Is Spinach Bad? before landing us here. I hope you enjoyed the ride. Please let me know if you have any questions and make sure to check out my hundreds of other videos.
For some context, please check out my associated blog posts: Using Greens to Improve Athletic Performance, Top 10 Most Popular Videos of the Year, Cancer-Proofing Your Body, Eating Green to Prevent Cancer, and Increasing Muscle Strength with Fenugreek