“Veg-Table” Dietary Nitrate Scoring Method

“Veg-Table” Dietary Nitrate Scoring Method
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What is the optimal timing and dose of nitrate-containing vegetables, such as beets and spinach, for improving athletic performance?

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What is the optimal timing and dose of nitrate-containing vegetables? In terms of timing for improving athletic performance, everyone’s different; so, basically two to three hours before a competition is about as specific as we can get.

How much borscht do we have to have for breakfast? To date, most studies have used a narrow range of doses; so, it’s not clear if it’s a matter of the more, the better, or if there’s a ceiling, or a threshold amount. So, they put it to the test. They set up folks on an exercise bike, and had them furiously cycle until they dropped. They made it about eight minutes after drinking a placebo, and after one shot of beetroot juice, about a quarter of a cup, they may or may not have gained a few seconds, but drinking a half cup gave them like a full extra minute, but drinking even more didn’t seem to offer additional benefit.

That half cup or so of beet juice corresponds to eight units of nitrate; so, four didn’t significantly work, and 16 did no better than eight. So, eight appears to be the sweet spot for improving athletic performance. What about for lowering blood pressure? Same thing. Four units—the triangles—may have helped a little, but eight worked better, and about equally well as 16. A ten point drop in blood pressure may not sound like a lot, but may translate into dropping heart attack risk 25% and stroke risk 35%.

But, beet juice is perishable and hard to find. What about V8 juice, which has both beet and spinach juice? It must not have much, because you’d have to drink 19 quarts a day to hit the target.

Straight beet juice is nitrate packed, but it’s a processed food. How many actual beets, or green leafy vegetables, would one have to eat to reach the target of eight units? The British Heart Foundation put together this really helpful table that takes into account both nitrate concentration and serving size. So, a serving of anything in the high group is worth two units, a serving of medium group vegetables about a half, and low nitrate vegetables a tenth. Now, these are pretty small servings, less than three ounces, (remember, we’re trying to get up to eight a day); so, a typical 15 ounce can of beets would nail the eight unit target for the day, as would a really big salad of greens. Most people only get about a unit a day, but even vegetarians need to double their vegetable intake, and those eating organic may have to eat even more.

Organic produce may have more vitamin C, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus but tends to have fewer nitrates, since by law synthetic nitrogen fertilizers are banned from organic agriculture. Now, eating 15% more organic veggies to get the same nitrate intake is easy, but for beets, the spread can be larger. On the other hand, organic beets may have more of certain phytonutrients, like the red pigment, which may explain why the organic beet extracts had significantly higher anti-cancer effects in vitro compared to conventional beets.

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 Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to woodleywonderworks via Flickr.

What is the optimal timing and dose of nitrate-containing vegetables? In terms of timing for improving athletic performance, everyone’s different; so, basically two to three hours before a competition is about as specific as we can get.

How much borscht do we have to have for breakfast? To date, most studies have used a narrow range of doses; so, it’s not clear if it’s a matter of the more, the better, or if there’s a ceiling, or a threshold amount. So, they put it to the test. They set up folks on an exercise bike, and had them furiously cycle until they dropped. They made it about eight minutes after drinking a placebo, and after one shot of beetroot juice, about a quarter of a cup, they may or may not have gained a few seconds, but drinking a half cup gave them like a full extra minute, but drinking even more didn’t seem to offer additional benefit.

That half cup or so of beet juice corresponds to eight units of nitrate; so, four didn’t significantly work, and 16 did no better than eight. So, eight appears to be the sweet spot for improving athletic performance. What about for lowering blood pressure? Same thing. Four units—the triangles—may have helped a little, but eight worked better, and about equally well as 16. A ten point drop in blood pressure may not sound like a lot, but may translate into dropping heart attack risk 25% and stroke risk 35%.

But, beet juice is perishable and hard to find. What about V8 juice, which has both beet and spinach juice? It must not have much, because you’d have to drink 19 quarts a day to hit the target.

Straight beet juice is nitrate packed, but it’s a processed food. How many actual beets, or green leafy vegetables, would one have to eat to reach the target of eight units? The British Heart Foundation put together this really helpful table that takes into account both nitrate concentration and serving size. So, a serving of anything in the high group is worth two units, a serving of medium group vegetables about a half, and low nitrate vegetables a tenth. Now, these are pretty small servings, less than three ounces, (remember, we’re trying to get up to eight a day); so, a typical 15 ounce can of beets would nail the eight unit target for the day, as would a really big salad of greens. Most people only get about a unit a day, but even vegetarians need to double their vegetable intake, and those eating organic may have to eat even more.

Organic produce may have more vitamin C, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus but tends to have fewer nitrates, since by law synthetic nitrogen fertilizers are banned from organic agriculture. Now, eating 15% more organic veggies to get the same nitrate intake is easy, but for beets, the spread can be larger. On the other hand, organic beets may have more of certain phytonutrients, like the red pigment, which may explain why the organic beet extracts had significantly higher anti-cancer effects in vitro compared to conventional beets.

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 Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to woodleywonderworks via Flickr.

124 responses to ““Veg-Table” Dietary Nitrate Scoring Method

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  1. My husband recently ran a 5K. He doesn’t race seriously anymore, but decided to eat a jar of beets the night before and morning of the race. He noticed a remarkable difference in his breathing ability while running. He has been running for 40 years and knew being plant-based the last 12 has made a big difference, but the “beet-effect” really surprised him.

    1. You just gave me an idea for my own experiment. One of the exercises I do is called the “farmer’s walk.” It is nothing more than picking up a heavy weight, in my case 140 lbs., and walking as far as possible. I already know how far I can go. Next time I’ll pre-load and see if I can “beet” my record.

  2. I also appreciate the chart and easy way of assessing optimal amounts. Your video Vegetables Rate By Nitrate mentions some other vegetables as high and very high (like cilantro, and basil) and in browsing the web I see even more vegetables mentioned. So there must be another more complete list somewhere?

  3. Spinach is very high on this chart. Is frozen chopped spinach better/worse than fresh? My grocery sells 300 g. packets of chopped frozen and they are very convenient. Unwrap, place in steamer for 15, let cool, & eat. How does this daily regime rank? Could I do much better? (I guess it’s best to eat a bit several times during the day, which I don’t do.)

      1. I firmly believe that in the case of spinach, this isn’t true. The spinach sits too long after harvesting to retain nutrient richness so freezing it immediately after harvesting locks in nutrients. I’m quit sure the Chronometer itself shows a better nutrient profile for frozen.

        1. Check out the link that GEBRand gave us. Some nutrients were higher when frozen, but the spinach wasn’t. I am not saying eat only fresh spinach or only frozen. A mix of both is fine and you and GEBrand may be onto something, as some frozen veggies are flash frozen at peak ripeness. Perhaps it’s all relative to how much you eat and where you buy produce?

          1. I checked in Chronometer 100 grams of each. It seems that freezing has a varied effect, increases nutrients in some cases, decreases in others.

            1. 100 grams of cooked spinach will yield more nutrients, because it was much more volume before cooking. For example 1 lb of fresh spinach has x nutrients. But, 1 lb of cooked spinach will have like x+x+x+x+x because it took like 5 lbs of fresh spinach to make a lb of cooked. You understand what I mean?

      2. Hello,

        My apologies, but I’m going to have to take issue with your statement that fresh is always best. According to a PubMed piece most vegetables are comparable in vitamin content and in some cases frozen was higher that refrigerated (fresh). Many frozen vegetables are flash frozen at the height of the growing season and don’t sit in warehouses for months where the nutrient value decomposes. This piece also found, however, that beta carotene content often declined in frozen. Read about it here:
        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25526594

        1. Thanks for sharing that study. Perhaps it’s all relative to what frozen veggies are eaten vs fresh. The quantity or each, the climate/soil, the producer, etc. Forgive me I did not mean to make a blanket statement that fresh is always best I should have clarified to say “fresh is generally always better.” The question was about spinach and based on the study you gave me frozen was not as good (if I am reading that right). At any rate you are on to something and flash frozen veggies at peak ripeness is a great way to go!

          1. Joseph, this may seem like nitpicking (It is!), but the word “always” is an absolute (just as “unique” is an absolute). Therefore, if you want to clarify by editing, you should have written not what you did but rather this: ‘… fresh is generally better.’ In other words “generally always” is, at best, confusing; at worst, it is nonsensical. And because you are generally so clear—which is certainly helpful to those of us learning from you on this site—I thought you might appreciate my kindly intended correction. Best wishes to you.

      3. From what I’ve read, frozen is often better because modern mega farms freeze fruits and vegetables within a few hours of harvest. Food that travels for days before reaching the table is said to lose much more than what’s lost in the freezing process.

        1. I don’t go shopping every week so fresh often isn’t fresh. And it wasn’t fresh to the store from the farm either. So frozen is much better as far as I am concerned.

          1. Yup, you got that right! Apparently, apples stored for 1 yr before reaching shelves are “fresh”

            Fresh from our own (organic) gardens is best :-)

  4. I always look for and appreciate the dose specific data. It soothes my engineering mind. That said, considering I eat a colorful, whole foods based vegan diet, now including more beets, I think I may just sit back and enjoy my food and fine tune from time to time rather than try to nail some theoretical perfect food plan.

  5. Yeah, I drank some V8 the other day. Went down easy, then I looked at the label. A quart provides OVER 100% of your recommended American sodium level. Wow. That was my saltiest day in a long time. I don’t purchase that stuff any more, i keep tea handy.

    1. Aloha,
      They do make a Low Sodium V 8 juice. I take whole organic beets and blend them into my v8 juice. My question. has there been any studies to show the difference between beet juice powder(crystals) and whole beet juice?

      1. I’m sure “low” sodium V8 is still way over my normal consumption rate. And it’s not the one I see in the convenience stores. I don’t _need_ veggie juice, I drink tea/coffee/malt/hops and eat veggies. Or I can make “whole” juice in my superblender. If I had to.

          1. I don’t add salt to anything I drink. I eat very few processed foods, therefore salt is very low in diet. My sweat doesn’t burn my eyes. I don’t keep up with it. Thanks for your interest but I was just commenting on a product and substance that many try to avoid/reduce.

      1. LSV8 isn’t on the shelf in convenience stores around here. That was just something I grabbed one hot day as was tired of coffee, tea, and water. And really sodium is no concern of mine, but I brought it up for those who might be sensitive. Newjumpswing tells us that LSV8 has 140 mg per serving.

        I don’t count things, but many do.

  6. Off topic, but could you comment on the IARC statements about meat? I don’t see why people are confused about the classification, but I am confused by some people’s criticisms that the boost in risk is a percentage of previous risk, not an increase in total risk as I thought it was. (In other words, if someone already has a 5% risk, the increase is a percentage of that 5, not the percentage stacked on top of that previous 5.)

    I already avoid all meat, for health reasons as well as moral and environmental reasons, I just want to be able to help other people understand the findings.

      1. Could you do a video on pumpkin seeds and cancer? Pumpkin seeds and osteoporosis? On cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, and garlic and blood pressure? Could you do a video on Mung Bean and heart disease? Thank you.

    1. Here is a link to the press release from the World Health Organization and the IARC, International Agency for Cancer Research.
      http://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/pr/2015/pdfs/pr240_E.pdf

      Here is a link to a Q&A on the topic from the WHO’s web page announcing the statement:
      http://www.who.int/features/qa/cancer-red-meat/en/

      The information states that there is basically no safe low level of meat consumption and that the risk increases with each 50gram portion. Here is a quote from the press release:

      “The experts concluded that each 50 gram portion of processed meat eaten daily increases the risk of
      colorectal cancer by 18%.”

      Fifty grams is equal to 1.75 ounces. If you think of a half-pound corned beef sandwich, that is equal to 4.57 servings per sandwich. If you eat a corned beef sandwich, sausage or ham for breakfast, and something similar for dinner . ..well you can do the math on how fast your risk increases.

      1. I think the original poster’s question is based on some claims that are being thrown around. I.e. that your risk of colon cancer is 5%. And you eat 50grams of processed meat, your risk doesn’t go up to 25% (5% + 18%). Instead your risk goes up by 18% of the 5% or .9% to a total risk of 5.9%, not 25%.
        So the question from the original poster is does our risk go up by %18 (to 5.9%) or does our risk increase to 18%, or does our risk Increase to 25%?
        That’s what isn’t clear.

        1. Yes, that. I have seen that claim, but my reading of the press release led me to think it was stacked. Obviously, increased risk is increased risk, but one version is more likely to lead people to change while the other version is more likely to be viewed by meat-eaters as an “acceptable” risk.

          1. Their numbers are reported in a very usual form, based on proportional hazards (Cox) modeling. Risk is relative to a baseline category and they are reporting a linear trend in these relative risks. So yes, the risk increase with each additional 50g/d ‘stacks’ but the risk itself is a risk ratio; those with say, 150g/d consumption are estimated to have 154% the risk of those with 0g/d consumption.

            I think the results are fairly astounding, myself, given that this is a relatively small, specific component of unhealthy diet and you get that extra ~1% absolute risk up to age 75 or so from a relatively modest processed meat habit. The 1% risk should matter a lot to the general population because it isn’t that small an increment considering the disease. Colon cancer has a huge impact on health, wealth and longevity. 5-year survival odds are approximately a coinflip for the general population, for example: http://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/colorect.html

        2. Not to downplay the risks…but the 5% risk level includes all the SAD eaters. If you eat your veggies and avoid the worst of the animal protein your risk is likely less than 5%?

          Other things:

          http://www.care2.com/greenliving/colorectal-cancer-risk-reduced-by-aspirin.html

          Researchers in Scotland conducted a study in which they found low-dose ASPIRIN used regularly can cut the risk of colorectal cancer by a third. After just one year of taking a daily dose of 75 milligrams, patients had reduced their colon cancer risk by 13 percent, the study found. After five years of taking the same daily dose, the risk was reduced by 37 percent.

          * I take white willow bark…

          http://www.naturalnews.com/028021_colorectal_cancer_selenium.html

          The research team studied volunteers between the ages of 25 and 75 who had already had one or more colorectal adenomas removed. None of the participants were diagnosed with any additional colorectal disease, cancer or other life-threatening illness and none were taking vitamins or mineral supplements when the study began. The scientists randomly divided the 411 participants into two groups: those in one group received an inactive placebo and those in the second group took a daily antioxidant supplement containing a selenium compound (selenomethionnine 200 ug), zinc 30 mg, vitamin A 6,000 IU, vitamin C 180 mg and vitamin E 30 mg.

          “Our results indicated that individuals who consumed antioxidants had a 40% reduction in the incidence of metachronous adenomas of the large bowel,” Bonelli said. “It is noteworthy that the benefit observed after the conclusion of the trial persisted through 13 years of follow up.”

          What’s more, blueberries have been shown to slash the risk of colon cancer by 57%

          etc….etc….

          https://www.drmcdougall.com/misc/2010nl/aug/colon.htm

          Colonoscopy Screening Is Unduly Dangerous

          In terms of making a decision about whether or not to have a screening performed, the benefits and risks to you must be taken into consideration. The absolute risk of developing colon cancer for people following the Western diet is to 2.5%.15 Having one first-degree relative with colon cancer increases the risk to 4.7%, and with two relatives the risk becomes 9.6% (up to the age of 75). This increased risk is in part genetic, but also remember that mother teaches daughter and son how to cook and what to eat.

          Harms from a colonoscopy may arise from the preparation, the sedation, and the procedure. In the United States, serious complications occur in an estimated 5 per 1,000 procedures.16 When biopsies or polyp removals are performed, then the risk of serious complications, including bleeding, increases. One of the most serious hazards, often leading to death, is perforation of the colon, which occurs in about 1 per 1,000 procedures. In the face of that disaster consider that to prevent one death from colorectal cancer (the benefit), 1,250 people would need to have a colonoscopy.17 This is almost an even exchange: for one life saved from cancer, one life is lost (or at least seriously threatened) from a complication, like perforation.

    1. I can send you a jpeg if you’d like? Or, someone suggested another way. “To get the chart, max size the screen and do a screen capture. Screen capture for Mac: command + shift + 3)”

      See what works and please let me know.

  7. I found the information about organic vs conventional vegetables to be fascinating. It’s not a reason to run out and buy conventional in my opinion, but it is interesting to me how conventional can have a sliver of area where one might consider it superior health wise. Who knew?

    1. I guess fertilizers is what we should use, who won’t benefit from higher mineral content? I’m not sure if it is environmentally friendly, though.

      1. re: “I’m not sure if it is environmentally friendly, though.” Exactly. That’s one of the reasons why I said this information wasn’t a reason to run out and buy conventional. There are all sorts of bigger picture issues to take into account.

        I take your point about higher mineral content, though since one of people’s concerns is lack of mineral content in our modern soil. I just think that dealing with soil issues is just something that has to be done intelligently and with global issues considered, not piece meal and focused on only a single nutrient. That’s just my thinking.

      1. Aren’t nitrates, which get turned into nitrites with stomach acid, what we want to avoid with bacon? Isn’t that what causes the stomach and gastric cancer among kim chi eaters in Korea? Why would we want to eat so much more nitrates than what are in bacon? Dr Greger is anti-kim chi. A Korean-American doctor did a study in which he found that nitrate heavy kim chi from radishes causes gastric cancer, but cabbage kim chi works against the cancer. Shouldn’t we want fewer nitrates?
        John

        1. Huge difference between the nitrites in the form of preservatives in processed meats vs. nitrates from veggies. Let me know if you want more studies and detail on this? Dr. Greger mentions some of these differences in his videos on nitrites. Check out the one on “Vitamin C-enriched bacon” and “Are Nitrates Pollutants or Nutrients?” and “Is Bacon Good or Is Spinach Bad?” These should totally help explain. Thanks, John.

          1. Thanks Dr. Gonzalez,
            Sometimes we learn something, but we can’t connect it to other information until we get the right piece to hook it all together. That totally makes sense now. You rock!
            John

    1. There is some confusion about the word nitrate. In the case of nitrates that one consumes in vegetables, this is a product that is healthful to our human bodies.
      Some confusion enters the picture because we know that sodium nitrate, which is a chemical that is added to meats to preserve and color them, is harmful to us (which is exactly what the World Health Organization just announced this week.)
      So: Nitrates from vegetable – good. Sodium nitrate from preserved meats – not good.

      1. The nitrate ion, whether obtained from food or from sodium nitrate, is reduced to the nitrite ion in the gut by bacteria. The nitrite ion in acidic medium is converted to the nitrosyl cation, which reacts with certain amines (secondary amines) in food to give N-nitrosamines, which are powerful carcinogens. The old adage “everything in moderation” applies to nitrates.

        1. BTK and GEBrand and S Slavin: I wonder if you would find the following video helpful:

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

          This video is part of a series that is very helpful in my opinion. So, you may want to watch the whole series. But the above video starts to get at this question about when nitrites/nitrates are a problem and when they are not. You can click ‘next video’ to see the rest of the series.

          1. Hi Thea: I watched both videos and thanks for referring me to them. What I’m about write is just logic, not empirical, so I could be wrong. When you eat a nitrate-rich food, only a small amount of the nitrate is reduced to the nitrite, unless you chews the food a long time, so only small amounts of nitrosoamines and NO are formed. When you consume nitrites directly, larger amounts of nitrosoamines and NO are formed. So consumption of nitrate-rich foods create smaller amounts of the good thing (NO) and the bad thing (nitrosoamines); consumption of nitrites create larger amounts them. Another dichotomy of life? conversion of the nitrite ion to NO is an enzymatic process an the enzymes that can do that (nitrite reductases) are not digestive enzymes, meaning for the reaction to occur the nitrite must be absorbed into the cells. In contrast, nitrosomanine formation is a chemical reaction that doesn’t need an enzyme; it just occurs in acidic medium. Would that give an advantage to nitrosomanie formation?

            1. BTK: Your post is way beyond me. I hope someone else who understands this topic at that level of detail will be able to jump in and have a nice conversation with you.

            2. Based on this video here:

              http://nutritionfacts.org/video/are-nitrates-pollutants-or-nutrients/

              Starting at 1:40 or so makes it seem like nitrates don’t necessarily turn into nitrosamines AND NO, but rather one or the other. According to the video, at about 2:05, “nitrates form nitrosamines in the absence of plants”.

              However even if that’s true, I wonder what the timeline is, i.e. if we eat meat and then 6 hours later eat a salad, will that salad now be BAD because the high nitrate content can turn into nitrosamines? We didn’t know….until now!

              Ok actually we still don’t know :)

    1. i don’t think so because one of the studies showed that cooked beets works just as well as beet juice in improving athletic performance in distance runners. So the nitrates must survive the cooking process.

    2. Nitrate content may come down a bit due to cooking, but it looks like it depends on the vegetable. Beets were not included in the study. I think it’s less of a worry if you’re eating plenty of raw and cooked veggies. Nitrate levels will be fine so long as we fill our plates with vegetables. Plus, we have a sweet table from the video to see whee we fall on the chart. All this to say cooking arugula will still have lots of nitrate, but uncooked may have more.

      1. Thanks. Yeah, I can eat 20 times the amount of cooked arugula compared to raw, while enjoying it too, rather than disliking it, so I’ll stick with at least mostly cooked :)

        1. dogulas: In a couple of videos, I believe Dr. Greger has said something like, “Which one [cooking method or fresh vs whatever] is best? The one that you will eat.” That makes a ton of sense to me, and I think your conclusion does also. You like it cooked and will eat more that way? Great!

    1. Yes it you add enough liquid. If you dont add liquid you will be eating it and not drinking it. It becomes more tolerable, though, if you add dates and frozen blueberries and frozen cherries with plenty of water. That’s what I do for athletic performance enhancement. I use two good sized beets.

    2. I don’t see why not if you really wanted to. We do know that smoothies are best prepared (like Ben suggested below using dates and blueberries) or with greens and whole fruits, but this sounds like a different ballgame.

  8. Now I can say in my next bike race, “Hey, I’m going to Beet you up!” Then I will break out in song, “Just Beet it. . . Just beet it”
    Silly I know but fun!
    Better yet is to drink a lot of beet juice and go to your doctor saying you think you are peeing blood! Then show them how pink/red your urine is! No, don’t really do this because it will cost you a lot of money and some beet red blood samples to check your kidneys! But the thought sounds fun!

  9. Regarding conventional vs. organic produce, to me it always boils down to this:
    Two plates of veggies set before you. You watch as one is sprayed with Black Flag bug spray, the other isn’t.
    Now which one will you eat?

    1. Because that’s the clear and only relevant difference in how these veggies are produced, not overstated at all, and organic pesticides are automatically non-toxic, right?

  10. I think the video says that they tested the beet juice performance boost 8 minutes after consumption. But the beginning of the video suggests consuming beet juice 2-3 hours before competing is optimal. Could it be that more than 1/2 cup of beet juice would be optimal if consumed 2-3 hours before competing? Thanks!

  11. If beets help with oxygen utilization, might they also help the endothelial cells in my retinas? I have age-related macular degeneration and if I cover my “good” eye things like mailboxes and cars can drop off the landscape. So I’m motivated to figure out something because my eyes keep getting worse. I’m 62 and in otherwise very good health. Two years ago I started a non-processed, no-sugar diet that included plenty of dark leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables and brightly colored vegetables and fruits. BUT I’ve been eating 3 servings of meat/eggs or fish per day, thinking I needed that for nutrient density. Now I’m reconsidering the animal protein. My doctor pointed out to me that I’m not living in a good spot to become a vegan — we’re rural and pretty far north. (She said that of the 3 patient she’s had who have tried veganism, only one was able to get enough protein.) So I’m thinking about just cutting back on the animal protein and also trying the fasting-mimicking diet which is supposed to lower IGF-1 levels. I’m HOPING that lower IGF-1 levels would be good for my eyes, and offset the animal proteins. Any ideas would be appreciated.

    1. Hello vmh. I see you are new to this forum and I wanted to make sure someone replied to you with something you could work with. If you look at the top of the page you will see ‘HEALTH TOPICS.’ Click on it, select ‘M’ and click on ‘macular degeneration.’ There is a special video on age-related macular degeneration that may be of particular interest to you.

      As a point of reference, I am also sixty-ish and have been plant-based for about four years. A few months ago, I had some blood work done and here are some numbers that may allay your fears about getting enough protein and calcium from a strictly whole-food, plant-based diet:
      TOTAL PROTEIN: 7.4 g/dL (6.3 – 8.3)
      CALCIUM: 9.3 mg/dl (8.8 – 10.4)
      What this means to me is that my protein and calcium levels are within normal ranges without a single speck of animal protein. Of course, everyone is different. But, it is definitely possible, a fact even your doctor seems to agree with.

      For an excellent source of information on how to successfully navigate your way off animal foods and confidently go completely plant-based, I recommend Dr. John McDougall’s Free Program. Just click on each orange-colored link on the right-hand side of the page and read through the plan in succession. It’s hard to go wrong following Dr. McDougall’s plan. And, of course, use Dr. Greger’s excellent website for the nitty-gritty on just a metric ton of science-based information.
      https://www.drmcdougall.com/health/education/free-mcdougall-program/

      I sincerely wish you all the best and good luck!

    2. Welcome, vmh. I’m sorry about the degeneration of your eyes, but glad to hear you are motivated to improve them through nutrition. Lawrence gave you good advice. I suggest you spend some time educating yourself about nutrition on this site and John McDougall’s. McDougall has some especially good articles on protein. I’m a very active and fit 60 year old and coming up on 3 years eating whole food plant based diet (no animal products all). I studied this site for a couple of months before I was convinced it was based in good science and I completely changed my diet. I have never felt better. Regarding protein in particular I had to unlearn many of the so-called truths about it. For example, I’ve learned that animal and plant protein is essentially the same as far as our bodily needs are concerned. Plants are full of protein, not just legumes, but nearly all plants. How does an elephant or a great ape get their protein? 100% plants. We don’t need as much protein as popular culture suggests. World Health Organization recommends eating only 5% of calories as protein. Kaiser Permanente, the largest managed care organization in the US, began training its physicians a couple years ago in the benefits of a plant based diet to address many common western diseases. Don’t take my word for any of this. Study McDougall, T. Colin Campbell, and Dr. Greger’s NutritionFacts.org. And keep reading the comments on this site. You’ll figure out there are a number of very knowledgeable and generous commentators. Good luck!
      By the way, where do you live? Are you above the arctic circle with limited food deliveries? Why would your doctor think there are not enough vegetables available to meet your protein needs?

      1. Thanks for the search info and the link. I checked out the McDougall site, looked at his blog and signed up for his newsletter. Very interesting. In the meantime, I’m learning to love beets!

      2. I’m up here on the 45th Parallel. Vegetables in the grocery store aren’t always fresh but I suspect it’s like that most places. Our farmer’s market reflects the short growing season. (Strawberries get ripe about the end of June.) Maybe the other patients of my doctor were like a vegan relative of mine who seems to subsist on processed stuff. I’ve ordered “The Campbell Plan” from the library. Funny how my eating habits have changed with time. It’s nice to know that tastes can change.

        1. vmh: Tastes most definitely change! Lots and lots of people start eating a healthier diet, then go back and try an old favorite (months later) and find that they don’t like it any more or it doesn’t quite have the same appeal.

          Best of luck with your efforts. I think you are on the right track.

    1. See my comment above – John M
      Possibly – Cannot combine fats with vegetables? – else Vitamin C is neutralized? – thus Nitrosamines are created??

      – just a thought??

  12. Hi Dr. Gregor, first I’d like to tell you I’m a fan of your painstaking work! I’m curious though, I just came across this article that says Curcumin lowers Nitric Oxide synthesis. I’d consider that a negative in my book. So should I take Curcumin daily with black pepper as I currently do if I’m trying to get the best of both worlds? I am an athletic guy who wants the boost from NO, but I also want the countless benefits from Curcumin. Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated! Thank you.

    http://www.greenmedinfo.com/article/curcumin-acts-adjuvant-imatinib-decreasing-no-levels-and-may-help-treatment

  13. Question: I’ve been watching your 16 videos referenced in this article, and specifically number 15: “Vitamin C-Enriched Bacon” At about 30 seconds you/the study makes the point that bacon fat (or “10% lipids” specifically) neutralizes the Vitamin C thus ‘enabling’ the production of carcinogenic nitrosamines. You point out that vegetables don’t have this fat and so instead healthy NO is instead produced.

    Many, a very many of us, I dare say – put a source of fat into our smoothies we make, or into our Beet Juice or Arugula drinks (I juice Arugula in my Vitamix, ever since your article on NO contents). Some experts have pointed out that we need to add fats to our green smoothies in order for the nutrients to be absorbed, and so many of us do that. Many folks add coconut or cacao butter, or even adding Chia seeds, or almost any seed is adding fat.

    So my question is: Do these vegetable fats (they are also “lipids,” after all) then ALSO neutralize the Vitamin C in the vegetables like they do in the Bacon? – and thus enable the synthesis of carcinogenic nitrosamines from the greens?!? Should we not then add any fats? – even Chia Seeds, into our green smoothies? – Or, is it again only animal fats that are the culprit here, i.e. in neutralizing the vitamin C? I’m hoping to hear from you that; “Nobody has done a study on this….until…now…”??

    And if this is the case that ANY fat neutralizes the Vitamin C, it makes an interesting topic of discussion to ponder how man thus evolved, assuming survival of he fittest?! This is potentially an argument against the Paleo diet being an evolutionary standard, in it’s place Veganism, else evolution (i.e. if we ate lots of animal fats, even vegetable fats) would’ve presumably found a way around this biochemistry (and allowed fats and still produced NO) 1/4 of a millennia ago?

    Just Curious,
    John M.

      1. This may be why Dr. Greger has found kim chi causes cancer. The study included high nitrate radish kim chi. When low nitrate cabbage kim chi was studied, it decreased the likelihood of stomach and gastric cancers.
        John S

    1. For that matter – what about a $150, gourmet, organic, tossed greens salad, from a 5-star restaurant, with $80 olive oil, or an avocado grown atop a nutrient-rich defunct volcano, on it? (and served by the most beautiful vegan-waitress you’ve ever seen :-) ? Would those fats then prevent the production of NO by vitamin C?! – and in fact, according to Video #15, would those fats actually POTENTIATE the production of the HIGHLY CARCINOGENIC Nitrosamines inside the unfortunate imbiber of the organic ‘healthy’ salad?!

      Could this fat/greens combination in non-organic vegetable eaters account for why non-organic eaters get more cancer and illness? i.e. to avoid ca all they need do is eat their fats and greens separately?! – (i.e. non-organics use nitrate pesticides and thus have more nitrates and thus more nitrosamines?!?) If so, perhaps all that non-organic eaters need do to avoid the pitfalls of pesticides in their cheaper foods is to eat their fats and greens separately?!
      (No, I don’t work for the pesticide industry.)

      Is it a question of a certain amount of fats turn a certain amount of Vitamin C to ‘The Dark side’? – and if so what is that ratio? How much fat would you need eat to override the ‘Light-side’ of the Vitamin C?

      Perhaps one lesson here is that our evolutionary ancestors ate one thing at a time, such as greens. No 7 course meals with desert, no 5-star restaurants in the deep Sahara, and no tossed salads existed in the bush. (Unless you helped build the pyramids. Huh?)

      My, what a deep, deep, paradigm shifting ‘Wabbit’ w(hole) that is dug here (with these studies)!?
      To paraphrase the immortal wisdom of Elmer Fudd – ‘THOSE PESKY ‘FWACTS’!

      John Murray

  14. Popeye’s diet (spinach) is on top of chart! So there was science behind the old cartoon. I rather eat cheaper, raw spinach, lettuce & radish (have more Nitrate) than relatively expensive beetroot that I am not sure if it can be eaten raw.

  15. Nice one ;-) Thanks for this! I was experimenting with lyophilised beet powder mixed with coconut water and chia seeds as a pre-race drink. At that time I did not have watt meter on my bike, but I did feel better around time I was usually experiencing muscle fatigue (90-100km-ish). Let’s see if it has same effect when running. Same year, at one particular OCR, I got muscle cramps around 16th km (just few hundred meter from finish) – hope I can prevent this in 14 days when I will be running same event.

  16. 100% pure and organic beetroot powder is available and the best way to get your full dose of beetroot as quickly and easily as possible. Tastes fantastic just in water!

  17. hello, I use beet root powder daily. Is there a dose specific amount (Tsp, Tbsp, 1/4 cup… etc) that I would need to take to get the effects from this video?

    1. Hi, sorry i don’t know. Just to comment though, my supermarket sells canned unsalted beets without preservatives, just water, the store brand, 5 for $3 or something like that! Just drink the red liquid in there, or blend the whole beets, can’t “beet” that!

  18. The simplest solution is to buy baby Arugula (studies show the younger versions of veggies have up to 100X more nutrients than the adult) put it into your blender and drink it. Arugula has much more N.O. oomph than Beet juice – see video: Arugula Beets – http://nutritionfacts.org/video/vegetables-rate-by-nitrate/

    Then I also add some Vitamin C powder cause Greger’s videos show that is what converts nitrites to NO. I leave all significant sources of fats out (see my post below on that). And I hence find a great healing boost from this drink. It seems to peak at about 5 hours post, so I drink it in the AM and also before sleep so that I awake in the AM super-charged, and then also benefit from the NO healing my body as it sleeps and repairs. Then I tried adding some probiotic to the mix, keeping in mind it is the lingual bacteria (per Greger videos) which are integral in the complex cycle of making the NO (though not sure how stomach acids may inhibit in this scenario?) If I were really fanatical I might try spitting into a sugar drink to culture my lingual spit and then add that a day later?!)
    Arugula grows like weeds in your yard if you plant it.

    I think if you add fats it will still work, you will still feel good from it (but possibly not AS good) cause some NO is still made. But based on my take of Gregers’ video info. – less NO will likely be made cause at least some of the Vitamin C is turned to the ‘dark side’ (i.e. highly carcinogenic Nitrosamines are created!)
    Just my Two-Cents, works for me.
    Peace & Light.

  19. I just want to report that the “Veg-Table Dietary Nitrate Scoring Method” video has the musical opening and closing sound and no audible voice. I watched it with the “Closed Caption” on.

  20. I make beet juice ice cubes for my shakes. It’s the leftover juice from the beet soup I make. So great to see people recognizing beets for their health benefits.

  21. Do vegetables need to be raw in order to reap the benefits of vasodilation, or can they be cooked? I’m interested in arugula, beets, rhubarb and celery in particular. Thanks for your help.

  22. I live near Salinas, CA. The nitrate content in the water is high due to fertilization that seeps into the water table. Does this mean we’re getting some of this effect from drinking water?

  23. How much is 80g of rocket ? In the “fichier canadien” the say 4 cups (250 ml = 21g). So, to have 8 units we have to eat 16 cups of rocket; do I make a mistake ?

  24. Im hearing more and more fellow cycling athletes using beet juice ‘products’. They are expensive. What’s your thoughts on using alternative pure beet root powder in purchased in bulk combined with water for beet juice vs steaming whole beets on a regular basis or financial strain of fitness product consumerism to increase nitrate consumption and enhance oxygen availability? Also, how would I measure quantity of nitrates in a tbls of powder? Thank you, in advance.

  25. Are The serving sizes of 4oz, 8oz, and 16oz of beet juice from commercially prepared juice or freshly juiced beets?

    Also, to get to the 8 units recommended later in the video, were the serving sizes still for juice, or for whole beets?

  26. Thank you for your question. The Beet juice was from commercially prepared source, James White Drinks, Ipswich, UK. The later table from the British Heart Foundation refers to the whole vegetable

  27. When these videos talk about beet juice do they mean the product you can buy from health food stores named beet juice or do you have to buy beets and grind them up? Thanks

  28. HELP PLEASE! I’m confused because I’ve been reading a book called: world without cancer: the story of vitamin b17 (originally written in 1970’s) and in it he says that b17 is a nitriloside which is found only in certain seeds & certain other plant foods. (B17 is used in some countries as part of nutritional cancer therapies) and I CANNOT find any videos on Nitrilosides.? So, has the word nitrilosides been changed (over the years) to nitrates?? ……can someone clear this up for me?!! Thanks.

  29. This series about nitrates is very interesting but challenging for me. The 10 first results from a search of “nitrates health” in Google (at least in Spanish) say that nitrates from vegetables are dangerous and that we should even reduce the amount we eat from spinach or Swiss chard to two servings weekly. Aside from the risk of getting converted into nitrosamine, when they would convert into nitrites, they would end up in the form of methemoglobin, which impaires hemoglobin binding to O2. This is especially dangerous in children, who could develop cyanosis. Does anyone know more about these concerns with methemoglobin and too much nitrates from vegetables?
    And, apart from recommending a limited ingestion of these foods, they recommend not to leave them, once cooked, at room temperature and, even in fridge, they should be eaten the day after at the latest. Moreover, they cannot be re-heated. All this to prevent too much formation of nitrites and nitrosamines. Are these actions useless?
    Btw, for another super green with high nitrates: nettles. A soup with them and oat flakes tastes delicious.
    Thank you for your attention:)

  30. Erola,

    Please see this annotated piece on nitrosamines and then Dr. Greger’s 15 videos….nutritionfacts.org/topics/nitrosamines/. Remember, when we discuss the nitrates in vegetables it’s not in an isolated manner such as the additions to say processed meats.

    A consistent consideration when it comes to the WFPB diets is the inclusion of multiple nutrients that in this case make the difference and interfere with the conversion of the nitrates to the toxic nitrosamines.

    Dr. Alan Kadish Health Support volunteer for Dr. Greger http://www.CenterofHealth.com

    1. Is a Nitriloside the same as a nitrate (in whole plant foods)?? (exclude/not talking about toxic nitrosamines)

      Thanks.

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