So Should We Drink Beet Juice, or Not?

So Should We Drink Beet Juice, or Not?
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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.

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Why don’t those carcinogenic nitrosamines form in our stomach 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? I mean, why would our body go out of 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 oxide 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, are 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 are fat-free phytonutrients physically in our 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 20mg of vitamin C is all you need in your stomach to block nitrosamine production. That’s like two strawberries, a little stalk of broccoli, a slice of bell pepper. Our bodies may have evolved getting about 600mg of vitamin C 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 preferred, but if you do decide to juice your own beets, you should add some greens or something, so throughout the day you can maximize nitric oxide 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.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to FoeNyx, Fir0002 (flagstaffotos.com.au) via Wikimedia Commons, and Michelle.

Why don’t those carcinogenic nitrosamines form in our stomach 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? I mean, why would our body go out of 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 oxide 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, are 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 are fat-free phytonutrients physically in our 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 20mg of vitamin C is all you need in your stomach to block nitrosamine production. That’s like two strawberries, a little stalk of broccoli, a slice of bell pepper. Our bodies may have evolved getting about 600mg of vitamin C 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 preferred, but if you do decide to juice your own beets, you should add some greens or something, so throughout the day you can maximize nitric oxide 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.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to FoeNyx, Fir0002 (flagstaffotos.com.au) via Wikimedia Commons, and Michelle.

Nota del Doctor

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. 

For more context, check out my associated blog posts: Using Greens to Improve Athletic PerformanceTop 10 Most Popular Videos of the YearCancer-Proofing Your Body; Eating Green to Prevent Cancer; and  Increasing Muscle Strength with Fenugreek.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

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