Vegetables Rate by Nitrate

Vegetables Rate by Nitrate
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If nitrates can boost athletic performance and protect against heart disease, which vegetables have the most—beans, bulb vegetables (like garlic and onions), fruiting vegetables (like eggplant and squash), greens (such as arugula), mushrooms, root vegetables (such as carrots and beets), or stem vegetables (such as celery and rhubarb)?


“Therefore,” the researchers conclude, “we advocate consumption of a diet high in nitrate (a natural strategy) to treat hypertension (high blood pressure), pre-hypertension, and to protect individuals at risk of adverse vascular events [like heart attacks].” So, if you want to try this at home, either to boost your athletic performance, or protect yourself from cardiovascular disease, which foods are the best sources?

What do you think? Is it beans; bulb vegetables (like garlic and onions); fruiting vegetables (like eggplant, squash, tomatoes), green leafies; mushrooms; root vegetables (like carrots, beets, potatoes); or stem vegetables (like asparagus and celery)?

Well, in milligrams per 100 gram serving: Greens win the day!

Here are the top ten widely available sources. And with all this talk about beet juice, you’d think beets might be #1, but they just barely made the top ten list. Swiss chard has more; next comes oak leaf lettuce; then beet greens; basil; spring greens, like mesclun mix; butter leaf lettuce; cilantro; rhubarb; and arugula (also known as rocket lettuce). Now, beet juice would actually be here, but we always want to choose whole foods to maximize the nutrition. As you can see, there was actually one stem vegetable, and it came in #2, even—rhubarb! But eight out of the top ten are green leafies, with the winner by a large margin being arugula! 18 times more nitrate than kale! I may have a new favorite vegetable.

Ten years ago, a pair of twin Harvard studies found the more fruits and vegetables you eat, the lower your risk of heart disease. The most powerful protector—green leafy vegetables. And now, perhaps, we know why.

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 MaryAnn Allison.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Evan-Amos, Benjah-bmm27, Quadell, Sanjay Acharya, Bjankuloski06en, ZooFari, and Whut via Wikimedia Commons, Cory Doctorow / Flickr, and Raw Candy.

“Therefore,” the researchers conclude, “we advocate consumption of a diet high in nitrate (a natural strategy) to treat hypertension (high blood pressure), pre-hypertension, and to protect individuals at risk of adverse vascular events [like heart attacks].” So, if you want to try this at home, either to boost your athletic performance, or protect yourself from cardiovascular disease, which foods are the best sources?

What do you think? Is it beans; bulb vegetables (like garlic and onions); fruiting vegetables (like eggplant, squash, tomatoes), green leafies; mushrooms; root vegetables (like carrots, beets, potatoes); or stem vegetables (like asparagus and celery)?

Well, in milligrams per 100 gram serving: Greens win the day!

Here are the top ten widely available sources. And with all this talk about beet juice, you’d think beets might be #1, but they just barely made the top ten list. Swiss chard has more; next comes oak leaf lettuce; then beet greens; basil; spring greens, like mesclun mix; butter leaf lettuce; cilantro; rhubarb; and arugula (also known as rocket lettuce). Now, beet juice would actually be here, but we always want to choose whole foods to maximize the nutrition. As you can see, there was actually one stem vegetable, and it came in #2, even—rhubarb! But eight out of the top ten are green leafies, with the winner by a large margin being arugula! 18 times more nitrate than kale! I may have a new favorite vegetable.

Ten years ago, a pair of twin Harvard studies found the more fruits and vegetables you eat, the lower your risk of heart disease. The most powerful protector—green leafy vegetables. And now, perhaps, we know why.

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 MaryAnn Allison.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Evan-Amos, Benjah-bmm27, Quadell, Sanjay Acharya, Bjankuloski06en, ZooFari, and Whut via Wikimedia Commons, Cory Doctorow / Flickr, and Raw Candy.

Doctor's Note

The reference to protection from heart disease is explained in Hearts Shouldn’t Skip a Beet, and beet-boosting athletics in Doping With Beet Juice, and continues with Priming the Proton Pump, and subsequent videos in this three-week video series. Another way that greens, The Healthiest Veggies, may protect heart health is explained in Boosting Heart Nerve Control

For more context, check out my associated blog posts: Using Greens to Improve Athletic Performance, and Which Common Fruit Fights Cancer Better?

For all our videos on the latest research on vegetables, visit our Vegetables topic page.

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

120 responses to “Vegetables Rate by Nitrate

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  1. The reference to protection from heart disease is explained in yesterday’s video and beet-boosting athletics in Doping With Beet Juice and continuing with Priming the Proton Pump and subsequent videos in this 3-week video series. Another way that greens, The Healthiest Veggies, may protect heart health is explained in Boosting Heart Nerve Control. There are also hundreds of other videos on more than a thousand subjects if you can’t wait until tomorrow for your video-of-the-day fix.

    1. What vegetables are low in oxalates and high in nitrates… Or is it not
      possible to have low oxalate levels with high nitrate levels… and if
      so won’t this stop people from absorbing calcium and cause kidney

      1. I heard Coriander (Cilantro) & Arugula (Rocket Lettuce), are low in oxalate and obviously high in nitrates. Is this true?

    2. I am having trouble finding the nitrate content of okra. Only found one publication with content levels in okra grown in Nigeria.
      Do you have access to info on nitrate content of okra? thanks!

  2. I don’t understand this article, because i have read a lot of articles that warn about the toxicity in the high nitrates levels in vegetables, recommending not to give spinach and others green vegetables to children.

    Who is right then?

    1. Pasticana, there are confused issues with nitrites. Nitrites found in animal products for example, are harmful. When animal fat is present, nitrites convert to nitrosamines. In infants (who should be drinking breast milk anyway), they should not have high nitrate vegetables because they lack full capabilities of the enzyme to convert methemoglobin to hemoglobin. How do nitrites keep from transforming into the cancerous nitrosamines? When antioxidants, like vitamin c, are present, they do not convert. Also, there must be no animal fat. Under these 2 conditions, nitrosamines do not form. If there is animal fat present + antioxidants, the nitrosamines are amplified. We can conclude that a vegan diet with high nitrite vegetables is not only safe, but highly beneficial. Dr. Greger’s later videos will delve into this topic more deeply.

      1. So does this mean we should not eat any animal fat at the same meal in which we consume vegetables high in nitrates?
        So much for enjoying a nice green salad (I love arugula, spinach and other deep greens). Or adding a tomato slice or ketchup to your hamburger!

        1. it is perfectly ok to consume vegetables with meat, you have mixed up the message.
          Just don’t add starch or carbs with your protein and your digestive system will thank you.
          Processing starch carbs and animal protein is massively hard work for the system.

      2. I do not see any reference that plant-based fat is any better/safer than animal fat when it comes to nitrosamine formation. I find it confounding that Dr. McGregor (in a video) mentions in a quick listing of requirements for preventing nitrosamines that a “lipid-free” environment is needed. Yet, he goes on to imply that all is hunky-dorey when eating nitrates. This seems contradictory because– it is typical to eat some fat with vegetables. Who eats salad or vegetables with no fat source whatsoever in the mea? Therefore, I don’t see any safety in eating high-nitrate vegetables (except in the unlikely event of a fat-free meal).

  3. Thank you about the explanation, it makes sense to me. I really like the information in this place.

    I hope find answers about topics like Solanaceae, because i’ve found a lot of vegetarian forums where they recommend not to eat tomatos, potatos, eggplants because it removes calcium from blood stream and put it on wrong places.

    I’m not sure it’s acually true, but if it’s not they are misleading people, in the mediterranean where i live tomatos are ate in a daily basis.

    1. Here is a quote from Jeff Novick (a well known plant based nutritionist) about solanine.

      “All food, including fresh vegetables, fruits, starchy vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds, have natural toxins in them. Many of these occur naturally in the food and are part of the plants natural defense system. Bruce Ames has published some articles on this, showing just how many toxic chemicals occur naturally in common fruits and veggies.

      Ames, B. N., Profet, M. and Gold, L. S. (1990) Dietary Pesticides (99.99% All Natural). Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 87, 7777-7781

      Ames, B. N. (1990) Natural Carcinogens: They’re Found in Many Foods. In: Health & Environment Digest, B. Murdock, ed., pp. 4

      So, the real issue is not whether or not a food has any toxic chemical in it, but how much of the toxic chemical is in the food and does it exist at a level that can be toxic to humans. Nicotine occurs in many common vegetables.

      N Engl J Med. 1993 Aug 5;329(6):437. The nicotine content of common vegetables.

      In regard to nightshades [solanine vegetables], there is no credible and reputable evidence that the nightshade family is harmful.”

      Dr. McDougall also says that

      “The most pharmacologically active compounds found in the potato are the solanine glycoalkaloids (α-solanine and α-chaconine). Their primary purpose is to defend the potato plant against bacteria, fungi, viruses, insects, animals, and humans. However, at appropriate levels these glycoalkaloids have medicinal effects for people.

      Known Medical Benefits from Extracts of Solanine

      Lowers cholesterol
      Antibiotic (bacteria, fungi, parasites, viruses)
      Anticancer ”

      He notes though that at high levels they do become toxic, but to avoid this he says
      “To eliminate the risks, do not eat spoiled potatoes; which usually means those potatoes with green discoloration under their skin and/or sprouted potatoes, having “growing eyes.””

      1. I forgot to thank you. :) I don’t know if it’s better only check thumb up, so there is not to many comments and email alerts. And it’s easy to people follow the comments.

  4. When you focus on one issue, it all seems so clear. But when you try to take into account all the information you have, it becomes confusing.

    For example, I have heard that it is important to get significant levels of absorb-able calcium in ones diet and that getting such levels is very achievable through eating certain greens. BUT you need to stay away from greens such as swiss chard and beet greens, because they have high oxolates (sp?) and the oxolates interfere with calcium absorption. Then there are studies like this that tout the benefits of eating such greens.

    This seeming conflict makes nutrition seem complicated. Am I missing something? How does one put all this information into a useful whole package of “how to eat healthy”? I know the answer many would give on this site. What I am asking is how to do it in light of conflicting information.

    1. In another post I pointed out that we are overloaded with conflicting nutritional information and you challenged me. I’m baffled.

      Oxalates are reduced by cooking. They are generally not a major problem for calcium absorption.

      A good place to find current knowledge about nutrition is the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State. They have a useful web site.

      1. nsmartinworld: That post you are replying to was from 4 years ago and was a question about a seeming conflict, not it turns out, an actual one. The point of asking questions is to learn something…
        I’m a lot more educated now (thanks to this site an several other sources of valid information). Now I understand how oxalates in greens such as spinach work. (And no, the problem does not go away with cooking.) I took a quick look at the Linus Pauling Institute site. I was not impressed. If that’s the site that told you that the oxalates in cooked spinach do not block calcium absorption from spinach, then I’m doubly not impressed.

  5. My 16 year old daughter who is a vegan was tested as borderline low for iron. She makes sure that she consumes citrus everyday to help her absorbtion. My understanding is that it’s best to limit consumption of spinach because that could limit her iron absorbtion. Would beets fall into the same category? Do all foods that are high in nitrates have an impact on iron absorbtion?

    Somewhat off topic but related… She consumes a great amount of chocolate soy milk, possibly 3 12-oz. glasses per day. Is that good or bad for iron absorbtion?

    Recently, the recovery drink of choice has been chocolate milk but since she is vegan she drinks chocolate soy milk. Is she getting the same benefits from soy that she would get from cow’s milk as a recovery drink? No matter what I think chocolate soy has to better than any of the vegan alternatives such as Gatoraid or Propel. With her knowledge of factory farming she would never consume cow’s milk.

    1. I am going to answer the third part of your question dealing with “recovery”. I assume you are referring to an after workout recovery drink. The anabolic phase is a critical phase occurring within 45 minutes post-exercise. It is during this time that muscle cells are particularly sensitive to insulin, making it necessary to ingest the proper nutrients in order to make gains in muscle endurance and strength. If the proper nutrients are ingested 2 – 4 hours post-exercise they will not have the same effect. It is also during this time in which the anabolic hormones begin working to repair the muscle and decrease its inflammation.
      Immediate ingestion of carbohydrate is important because insulin sensitivity causes the muscle cell membranes to be more permeable to glucose within 45 minutes post-exercise. This results in faster rates of glycogen storage and provides the body with enough glucose to initiate the recovery process (Burke et al., 2003). Muscle glycogen stores are replenished the fastest within the first hour after exercise. Consuming carbohydrate within an hour after exercise also helps to increase protein synthesis (Gibala, 2000).

      In other words, the best post recovery food would be simple carbohydrates such as fruits, like a couple of bananas or some dates. The post recovery drink is a creation of the industry and doesn’t serve a significant purpose.

      Some words of caution: you said she is drinking chocolate soy milk as a post recovery drink, you don’t mean a chocolate soy recovery drink do you? If so, these are purposefully filled with soy protein isolates which is the refined soy protein that can spike our insulin like growth factor. This leads to accelerated aging and tumor growth promotion. Dairy has the same effect but soy protein isolates are twice as potent, making it more dangerous in that regard.

      1. She drinks Silk brand chocolate soy milk. Is this what you are referring to that is going to accelerate aging? I thought soy milk was healthier than dairy?

        We have tried almond milk but the protein content is not as high. With her being tested low for iron I thought soy was a better alternative. Would it be better to be sure to increase bean consumption and the citrus to be sure that she’s getting enough iron?

        1. Soy milk is an excellent alternative to cow’s milk, no saturated butterfat or cholesterol and even has a little fiber and iron (unlike cow’s milk). And indeed much more protein than almond or rice milk.

          1. Cholesterol in the diet is not a negative thing, and is necessary for the health of the thyroid. Cholesterol in the DIET has NEVER been proven to correlate with heart disease: Look it up in the studies! Thyroid and liver health regulate the end levels of cholesterol in the blood, and using a low-cholesterol diet causes more problems than it solves. Get off the “low cholesterol diet” fallacy, “doctor”.

            1. Serious? This is propaganda spread by the commercial $$$ animal agriculture agencies and associates. We make ALL the cholesterol we need, just like the animals do who you want to eat to “enjoy” it oxidized and second hand! Since you can’t take cholesterol out of animal products, YES they have been correlated to heart disease. If you look it up in the “studies” be sure to see just who sponsors the ones who promote animal products! Get educated and don’t call the best science a fallacy if you just want to believe good things about bad habits.

              1. Health is not necessarily the primary value. Many people prefer the enjoyment of life and meals over a modestly longer life span. You will have to live with that.

                1. @nsmartinworld: Lots of people make the mistake of believing that healthy meals verses enjoyment of life and meals are at odds. We know such an either-or is not true for several reasons, one of which is studies where people themselves rate their new diet as enjoyable.
                  People also easily make the mistake of thinking that the only risk at stake is a shorter life. Also at stake in the diet choice game is the potential fate of dealing with years of horrible pain and suffering before the shortened life finally comes to an end.
                  What’s good about the situation we find ourselves in is that you can have it all – both healthy *and* delicious, fully enjoyable meals. It’s a win-win. Why choose a value when one can have it all? For most people raised on unhealthy food, being able to enjoy healthy meals is a matter of adjusting your tastes. But the tastes you have now were also acquired. When the stakes are as high as they are, it’s worth a little work to get the win-win. But of course, it’s totally up to you what you want to live with.

                  1. Many millions of people prefer less healthy food to longer life spans, and that is perfectly fine. It is not true that one is more likely to experience “miserable suffering” by eating a crummy diet and dying younger. By dying younger you would be less likely to experience (or endure longer) the ugly diseases of aging, like Alzheimer’s. We all engage in behaviors that may reduce our statistical probability of living longer, but we don’t think about them because they are normative. In various ways we each value other things more than we do health.

                    1. Except that Alzheimer’s is strongly linked to a “crummy” diet ( ) –as is many of the diseases that linger and make us suffer. In this case, Alzheimer’s doesn’t make you die young. It just makes you and your family suffer for years. And it costs our society a lot of resources. You can learn more about the links between diseases and nutrition here on NutritionFacts, including other long lasting wasting diseases like type 2 diabetes for a person who doesn’t switch her/his diet.
                      When people eat a crummy diet, they *may* die younger and without warning. Or, as what is happening now with so many, they may linger on a long time in pain and suffering–especially with our medical system. Eating a bad diet does not guarantee a quick end at 60. Consider: Heart disease, our number one killer in America, sometimes kills people early and without warning. Other times, it just creates a lot of pain and suffering for years. And heart disease is avoidable for the vast majority of people. It’s a choice, but sadly a choice that people make in ignorance.
                      How many people do you know at the end of their lives? Nursing home staff and other end of life care people could tell you a lot of about how bad things can get. And much of what these sick people are suffering from is avoidable on a yummy, but healthy diet. I can’t tell you how many people here at NutritionFacts who have a loved one (or three) who are suffering terribly from diseases and problems caused by their diets. Still alive, but suffering.
                      re: “Many millions of people prefer less healthy food to longer life spans…” Again, it is not an either-or thing. People falsely believe that more healthy food=less enjoyable food. And people don’t understand the potential suffering consequences of their food choices. Happily, picking tasty food verses healthy food is not a choice people have to make. That’s the good news. The real person’s rights issue here is the right to be educated on the truth about diet and it’s ability to be both delicious and health promoting.

                    2. There are various theories as to what causes Alzheimer’s, so you pick the one that fits your bias. There is tremendous growth in homes for aged people with dementia. Death by disease is not pleasant at any age.

                      You are not getting my point, apparently. Health may be your primary value, but it isn’t for many people, and they would rather live shorter lives and eat or drink what they want though you might not approve. What you consider “yummy” may not interest others in the slightest. Given time and interest, we could probably discover all sorts of behaviors that you engage in that have the potential to shorten life span, and the effects of nutrition on health are far from settled issues.

                      Many of the greatest human accomplishments have been the work of daredevils. Thank goodness risk-averse people do not yet control our every choice.

                    3. I understand your point. I’m explaining how you are wrong. You think that people are choosing a bad diet, because they value a cheese burger more than they value life. And now you are saying that they value a cheese burger more than they value their good health. You think that bad diet = shorter lives (not true for Americans as a whole) and = no or equal suffering (again untrue). And you continue to think that people eat unhealthy because that is the only delicious choice to make, ignoring that eating healthy, just like eating unhealthy, is an acquired taste (already explained as untrue).
                      Here is the proof that Americans are living more sick years: What this means is that our bad diet is not helping people to die faster, like the false choice you have present. It means that people are living more suffering years. And while people can make that choice, I have never seen anyone say, “I would rather suffer and be sick for years as long as I can enjoy my ice cream.” No, they say, “I would rather die young than give up my cheese.” But as I explained, that’s a false and ignorant sentiment.
                      Forget Alzheimer’s if you want. Think of all the other diseases people are suffering from. Diseases that we 100% know is related to diet: heart disease and type 2 diabetes and some forms of cancer and etc.. Here is the proof that those additional sick years Americans are enduring are related to diet: and

                      This is not an issue of being risk-adverse. This is a no-brainer of being able to have it all with some very basic education and tiny bit of work. People can choose to eat a bad diet, but the vast majority are doing so out of ignorance of their choices.

                    4. You may think you know what causes Alzheimer’s but you are mistaken. To quote the Alzheimer’s Association:

                      “While scientists know Alzheimer’s disease involves progressive brain cell failure, the reason cells fail isn’t clear. Like other chronic conditions, experts believe that Alzheimer’s develops as a complex result of multiple factors rather than any one overriding cause. The greatest risk factors for Alzheimer’s are older age, having a family history of Alzheimer’s and carrying the APOE-e4 gene.”

                      Your belief is that you better than people know themselves what they want, and that just ain’t so. Like all paternalists, you assume that people just need to be prodded into behaving as you think they should.

                    5. Please note what I said in the above post: “Forget Alzheimer’s…” I’m not arguing with you about Alzheimers. If you want to continue the conversation, you need to read what I actually wrote (including the statistics about Americans living more sick years) and respond to the actual arguments. That’s a courtesy I have afforded you and will do so again right here:
                      I am not saying I know better than anyone what they want. I’m saying that they are making choices in ignorance, and that is unfair. And please note, you are making assumptions about my motivations that are not in evidence:
                      My personal views: I’m all for people taking personal risks. I think people have a right to smoke all they want in the privacy of their home. I’m completely against car safety belt laws, no matter who gets killed or how much suffering results. I’m all for people participating in extreme sports. I’m against bicycle helmet laws. And I’m all for people eating themselves into suffering if that’s what they really want.
                      What I’m against is people making these decisions in ignorance. Once you understand what a car accident can do to you and your loved ones and the rest of society without a safety belt and once a safety belt is provided, I’m all for letting you choose whether to wear one or not. The same goes for diet (assuming the diet chosen doesn’t destroy my planet). I too believe in the value of letting people take personal risks–as long as the behaviors in question really are personal risks as long as the people are given the full information.

                    6. OK, so we agree on some things. What we don’t agree on is knowledge. There is no such thing as “full information,” and there is no arbiter of knowledge. Nutrition is a very primitive science, so much of it is a shot in the dark. Experts disagree on everything from salt intake to the safety of saturated fats. Health is like religion in that one gets to choose one’s beliefs and behaviors without the requirement of proving that they are “true” or wise. In a free society there is no once you should have to prove yourself to unless you are very clearly harming others, or threatening to do so.

                    7. We have as much clear information about nutrition as we have about smoking. That “experts” disagree about nutrition is not surprising or an argument in your favor. You can also find experts who will still tell you that smoking does not cause cancer. And you can find over 100 studies to back up that claim.
                      The same is true with diet. We don’t know everything about diet, but we know enough. There is clear information about which foods are generally healthy and which foods are generally not, even if you can find experts to say otherwise. If you want to educate yourself on this topic, you are in the right place. Also, there is clear information about the changeability of our taste buds. I’ve never seen any opposing studies over that last statement. And I’ve experienced it myself as have many others on this forum.
                      To further address your post: now you are changing arguments. Originally you said that people should have the right to eat unhealthy and die sooner and have poor health. It is their right! Implicit in that argument is an acknowledgement that a poor diet can cause poor health and a shorter life. Getting into *which* diets cause poor health is a completely different argument.
                      When someone says, “I will happily eat food that is bad for me and die sooner because I value eating tasty food more than I value my health or life.”, they are acknowledging that that food they are shoving into their mouths is bad for them and can kill them sooner. And I’m saying that they are making that statement and choice in ignorance because a) tastes are changeable and b) they seem to be unaware that dying early might be the least of their consequences. In that stement is an understanding that they have to make an either-or decision. They do not. They can enjoy delicious food and also greatly increase their chances of living a long and healthy life. I’m not forcing anyone to do it. I’m just saying that they should be made aware of the option of having a win-win. Too many people seem completely unaware of their options and the consequences.
                      If people were truly aware of their choices, they would say things like, “I don’t care how short my life is or how much I have to suffer, this bacon is totally worth eating. It’s just not worth my time or effort to learn to enjoy any other food.” That would be a statement made out of knowledge and a true values-based choice.

                    8. nsmartnworld: You wrote, “It’s bizarrely contradictory to claim that we know which foods are healthy but not which diets cause poor health.” But we do know exactly which diets cause poor health. Again, you are welcome to educate yourself on this site if you want…

                    9. This is a matter of simple logic. Your point is sharply contradictory. I read science reports for useful information, not web sites without credibility.

                    10. I don’t know why this individual has recently, and insidiously, jumped into a largely informed site focusing on diet, and the impact it has on overall health and well-being. He is attempting to engage others here to be distracted by an Ayn Randian debate on “Freedom”, “the Right to be Unhealthy”, but worst of all, the apparent “Right” to choose arbitrarily, because of the specious argument that because different researchers disagree, therefore we may pick whichever path we prefer, and be just as healthy, because the important factor is apparently being free to choose, not in choosing wisely. Limits on the First Amendment enter when lying impacts the immediate well-being of others, and so the debate over intentionally misrepresenting either unwarranted benefits of certain products, or unwarranted defense of harmful products, depends upon evidence, not your opinion or desire for more “freedom”. Logical Fallacy: All experts disagree = I can arbitrarily pick whichever expert I agree with. Last, of course, is the burden borne by society, and the families of all who do not simply die a statistical 753 minutes earlier by virtue of a lifetime of dubious choices, but rather die slowly, painfully, over months or years, receiving costly palliative treatments to extend the suffering and expense until every feasible financial source can be exhausted.

                    11. Cute little version of “let’s gang up on the guy who is not like us and silence him.” A person has a right to be unhealthy for the same reason as he has a right to be gay, or she has to have an abortion. Self-ownership. You feebly and ignorantly attach it to Ayn Rand, when it goes back much farther, for instance to James Madison speaking for many of the founders. In 1792 Madison wrote:

                      “This term [property] in its particular application means “that dominion which one man claims and exercises over the external things of the world, in exclusion of every other individual.”

                      “In its larger and juster meaning, it embraces every thing to which a man may attach a value and have a right; and which leaves to every one else the like advantage.

                      “In the former sense, a man’s land, or merchandize, or money is called his property.

                      “In the latter sense, a man has a property in his opinions and the free communication of them.

                      “He has a property of peculiar value in his religious opinions, and in the profession and practice dictated by them.

                      “He has a property very dear to him in the safety and liberty of his person.

                      “He has an equal property in the free use of his faculties and free choice of the objects on which to employ them….”

                      Now, maybe you can explain if a person has a right to engage in risky sex or if the government should prohibit her from doing so. Does a person have a right to ingest his favorite intoxicant, or should the government poison him for doing so? Does a woman own her own body when she chooses not to have a baby?

                    12. I may not have been clear in critiquing your comments; I was addressing your blithe, flippant references to freely choosing which experts to believe, as one is as likely to be correct as any other. This is a cleverly antiscientific pose analogous to climate change denying. The right to choose, believe, act, etc. is yours I would agree – but arguing that no expert on diet and health has more credibility or supporting research than another, and insinuating that one can pick whichever expert opinion is most in line with your own inclinations and not expect to suffer any consequences, is deeply flawed logic. I say again, the overall basis for this website is to discuss, debate, and share information regarding the relationship between dietary options and general health. It is not about debating whether anyone’s freedoms are constrained by making choices based on best information at hand. Scientists may not be in perfect agreement on every detail, all the time, but they are pretty far along from those of 150 years ago. The most political aspect of debate here seems to relate to distrust of government and especially private entities notorious for outright lying, to cover up known health risks like smoking. You are denied your freedom to make enlightened choices whenever others with more power (read money) control the sources of information. You seem more interested in defending the rights of the liars, which is a dangerous area; free speech and shouting fire, etc. etc.

                    13. You provide no illustrations, aside from climate change, to support your view. It’s just your opinion, and I disagree. Nutrition is a very primitive science and expert opinions often change in major ways. Are you still drinking skim milk and not eating eggs?

                    14. “Authoritarian” def: “favoring complete obedience or subjection to authority as opposed to individual freedom.”
                      When James Madison died, he still owned about 100 slaves. He freed none of them. This should temper one’s enthusiasm for referencing him on the subject of being authoritarian.
                      I espoused no blanket government infringements in my responses, so you appear to be the one “gang(ing) up on the guy who is not like us (and) silence him.” As for your advocating “Minding your own business”, you spend a lot of time here puffing up your opinions (which you do not support with evidence).
                      You ask me, hypothetically, “Are you still drinking skim milk and not eating eggs?” I ask you, hypothetically, are you still smoking cigars and taking mercury for your gonorrhea?
                      Your are right, what reasoning adults do in private is their own business. What misrepresenting adults attempt to sell me, or the general public, is both my business, and by consensus of myriad social contracts, everybody’s business. That is settled law – get over it. The EPA, FDA and other agencies may be flawed (read more accurately underfunded and manipulated by lobbying groups) but laissez-faire economics failed totally 150 years ago because the crooks and cons ran amuck, not because “the invisible hand” was impeded by those dern pesky regulators.
                      For the last time, you keep bloviating about libertarian philosophy and “primitive nutrition science” on a blogsite devoted to sharing real information about diet – I think it’s clear who does not belong here.

                    15. I’ll put this as nicely as possible. I don’t care about your opinion of my posts. Free people can read or not read as they see fit. I am intimidated by nobody and censored only by the owner of the site.

        2. As Dr. Greger said above, soymilk is indeed healthy. I was confused by your wording, I thought you meant a soy recovery drink. But now you know to avoid them.

  6. A sports dietician told me that one loses more sodium in sweat than potassium after strenuous exercise. She is the sports nutritionist for a major football team. She recommended a sodium enhanced coconut water for post exercise recovery. Apparently regular coconut water does not have enough sodium to make up for the electrolyte losses after vigourous exercise. You can calculate your sweat rate (how many pounds you lose in physicial activity). For every 1 lb of body weight you lose after exercise that corresponds to the loss of 16 ounces of sweat. To rehydrate you need 16-24 ounces of extra fluid per pound loss. The extra fluid requirements compensates for the water loss in urine.

    If you are exercising in the heat you will most likely need electrolyte/fluid replacement. Everyone knows that sweat tastes like salt that is why she states you are better off with water and a salt shaker rather than a banana. Some of her athletes lose so much water through sweat that they require IV fluids because the gut can only hold 1-2 litres of water.

    1. We should strive to keep sodium levels 1500 mg or under. A cup of coconut water already has 250 mg of sodium. 16 ounces of coconut water rehydration is 500 mg of sodium, and to enhance the sodium content even more doesn’t seem very healthful.

      In the words of Jeff Novick (a well known plant based dietician) :

      “Endurance athletes who work out in high temperatures who are adapted to a high sodium diet can lose sodium though their sweat.

      However, when one adapts to a low sodium diet, which can take about a week or so, they will lose much less sodium through their sweat and this will not be an issue.”

      Simple carbohydrates should be more of the focus when one is considering post exercise food, i.e. fruits

      1. There is considerable disagreement among researchers about the desirability of limiting sodium intake. More recent studies have found that people with lower sodium intake are more likely to have heart problems.

      2. “We should strive to keep sodium levels 1500 mg or under.”

        On what basis do you say that? Perhaps videos by “non profit” organizations are not the best source of information on health.

        If you go on PubMed and search for sodium and mortality, you will find that morbidity and mortality are lowest around 4500mg sodium/day.

        1. The unbiased clinical research clearly demonstrates a dose-response association between sodium and morbidity/mortality that does not level off at 4500mg/day, and there is plenty of biased publications attempting to confuse the issue. Here is a list of info from Dr. G so that you can see the evidence for yourself:

          Dr. Ben

  7. Dr. Greger, I’m hoping you can help me help my friend. This friend (who lives in Russia) is very afraid of nitrate poisoning due to some highly publicized cases in Europe. She tests all fruits and vegetables using a nitrate-testing device, and finds almost nothing “safe” to eat. She does not eat any meat, so processed meats are not a concern. The EFSA recommends a “safe” intake of nitrate of 3.7 mg/kg b.w. per day (which would be exceeded by consumption of 100g of almost any leafy green vegetable). I have found some articles but I’m still confused.
    Have you written or made a video addressing this question somewhere? What’s the clear message I can deliver to my friend to calm her fears so she can start buying and eating vegetables and fruits? I want to mention that I personally eat pounds of kale, collards, chard, and other vegetables every day and I experience no ill effects – but I live in Canada where the food supply may be very different from what’s available “across the pond”

  8. Ah, and I see my question has been at least partially answered by some other posters to this thread, but I hope it’s still relevant!

  9. It is possible to treat asthma and COPD with foods high in nitrates?  I am experimenting on myself as best I can by adding arugala to my smothies

  10. I have been a vegetarian for about 20 years and just recently became vegan. I limit salt, don’t even have a salt shaker, eat lots of greens, bananas, etc. My pressure is still high. What else can I do. I really want to get off the drugs.

    Thanks so much


    1. I just wanted to share some of my experience. After being fortunate
      to discover this fantastic guy’s channel and watching a video on NO I
      remembered that I always liked eating salad of beets with garlic
      (and I’ve had some problems with cerebral blood flow also resulting in
      my heart discomfort). Hm, I said to myself. After some experimenting
      here are my results. I am able to lower by blood pressure by 10 mm easily eating just one small (smaller than my fist) shredded beet a day. Sometimes I hit harder on my beets (adding garlic is probably relevant too) and have my BP go down too much (making me wake in the middle of a night and drink some coffee!). My exercise stamina went high up. I feel better overall.

      Just a half of shredded beet a day. Not forgetting to get some vitamin C in the mix (in plants or sometimes just a pill). Also I don’t know why there is such thing as a juicer when we all know whole plants are best. Just grind your veggies as fine as possible if in any doubt.

      Probably getting l-arginine (NO precursor) rich food is a good idea too – lentils, beens, peanuts.

      Moderate aerobic exercise such as brisk walking (at about 60-70% Max heart rate) works fine to get those vessels dilate. I always feel better after working out – especially in those days of changes in weather (being very sensitive to atmospheric pressure fluctuations)

      There is another video on youtube with C Essestyn (or was it McDougal?) saying one has to substantially reduce fat consumption to unclog one’s arteries so their lining (endothelium) is able to interact with NO and dilate as a result.

      Also McDougal or Essetstyn said salt reduction doesn’t do much (resulting maybe in just a couple mm).

      I hope by the time I’m writing this you’ve already figured out all of this and more.

      Oh, yes, stress reduction works miracles!! :) This also could be the key. I prefer to listen to music for meditation and work on my breathing while listening and throughout my day. Taking a bath with a lit candle feels good too.

      But these as just my 5 anecdotal/amateurish cents..

      1. I love science, but still respect the hard won efforts of other’s experience. The experiences and lessons in the anecdotal success stories on all the WFPB websites do not lose credibility with me because they aren’t placebo controlled double blind studies. Call me simple, but sometimes you have to try it out yourself to get an answer or benefit, as how all traditional medicine probably was handed down. Sure some of it was bogus, but hey, the placebo effect works too! What actually works is good enough for me! None of my doctors thought a plant based diet was a good idea, let alone one that could reverse the diseases I had!

    1. Sorry, to be understood I should have written “cilantro”, but “coriander” is a synonym.

      Anyway, still no ideas about the dried seeds?

  11. Dr. Greger, I’m assuming you are comparing the nitrate levels on a per calorie basis rather than a per serving or per weight or volume basis? I love arugula, one of my favorite greens actually, just wondering how much arugula I’ll need to eat to obtain the equivalent benefit. Rather than juicing my beets, I’m just going to go with eating the whole raw beet today with some kale. Earthy! Thanks!

    1. Ah, just watched the video again and heard you say the measurement was in mg per 100 gram serving. So that pretty much answers my question about just how much arugula I’d have to eat to obtain the equivalent effect. Beets are so much heavier than arugula that it would not be feasible to eat the weight of arugula that would make 16 oz beet juice. I did juice up 3 medium beets yesterday (~10 oz beat juice) and added in a few carrots and some celery for taste and drank it up 2.5 hours prior to a “race” type group bike ride that I regularly ride in. I noticed a significant improvement in my performance and was able to keep up with the big dogs for a longer time than I normally am able to compete. Needless to say, next week I’ll be juicing up 6 beets! Thanks for your videos!

      1. Well, looking again, I suppose I’d only have to eat less than 1/4 of the weight. Since the 16 oz volume of beet juice probably weighs 16 oz also, perhaps the best bet would be to eat 8 oz arugula as it is close to twice the potency.

  12. What vegetables are low in oxalates and high in nitrates… Or is it not possible to have low oxalate levels with high nitrate levels… and if so won’t this stop people from absorbing calcium and cause kidney stones?

  13. Hello Dr M Greger, thanks for your videos… they are amazingly helpful. My vegan arguments pack a better punch these days thanks to your work. :D

    I was going to ask though? As we are close approaching Halloween, would you be able to post some interesting bits about actual squash varieties? For instance, which is best and most nutrient dense if any? best value per “buck” and so forth…

    Thanks again!


  14. I’d be interested to know what an Athlete should be eating during long training sessions. As a cyclist I need to consume a lot of carbohydrate during training (5 hour rides!), what ingredients would you suggest for an energy bar? Should I be avoiding certain things like refined sugar? Flapjacks are popular but should they be shunned because of the saturated fat in them?

    Bear in mind I’m restricted to one large pockets worth of food and bananas don’t last long before they turn to moosh.


    1. You might get some ideas from reading Scott Jurek’s book, Eat Run. He is one of the worlds best ultra marathoners and fuels himself with plants. His book which is his autobiography has recipes in it and I found it a fun read.

  15. Dr. Greger, here is a spelling error in this transcript…please forgive that someone pointed out to me when I quoted that it should be Mesclun greens [to mix-Latin] not the drug “Mescaline…”
    Transcript says:
    “Here are the top ten widely available sources, and with all this talk
    about beet juice you’d think beets might be number 1, but they just
    barely made the top ten list. Swiss chard has more; next comes oak leaf
    lettuce; then beet greens; basil; spring greens, like mescaline mix;
    butter leaf lettuce; cilantro; rhubarb; and arugula.”

    Bill Misner PhD

  16. Is it better to get your nitrates for athletic performance through concentrated un organic beet juice shots 0.4g of nitrate per shot or 500 mills of beet juice un concentrated thanks

  17. Is this for raw? Would these particular benefits be lost if I cooked my greens or beets?

    Edit: Well at least I have a full answer from to the first question, all were raw in this case. The study also suggests that any processing, including cooking, should reduce the nitrate levels. But would it reduce nitrate levels to zero? Half? Just slightly?

    1. This is why I vary my vegetable intake — morning I devour green veggie and fruit smoothies, lunch I’ll smash down some green leafy bean salad, and for dinner I’ll steam more veggies.

      Now I get more veggies in one day that I did in 2 weeks just a year ago. :-)

  18. Dr Greger, your info/video on Nitrates is most interesting to me. I have neurocardiogenic/disautonomia syndrome and anything that causes Vasodilation (drop in blood pressure) is a daily, life threatening problem for me. Nitrates are one of the many triggers that seriously affect me. What I am looking for is a comprehensive list of Vegetables and Fruits with their Nitrate content (per 100grams or similar) both in natural/raw state and also, importantly when Juiced. I am having trouble finding good info. Could you please direct me to any resources that you may be aware of, it would be appreciated.

  19. Hi, could you share with us any food databases that would give us quantification of nitrates, sulfur, and possibly oxalates in many different foods? What was the source data for the graph on this page?

  20. Hi. I read that mouthwash can eliminate the benefits of nitrate absorption. So a couple of questions:
    – Do all mouthwashes have this detrimental affect
    – What are the timescales involved e.g. can I use mouthwash in the morning, load with nitrates at lunch then get the benefits in the evening?

      1. Thanks for supplying the link! Many folks may be unfamiliar with the website so it’s great to provide links and ask folks to search in the topics section :-)

  21. Hello Doc!

    I understand you prefer whole food to juicing….however, I want to know how much of Arugula would be good before a strenuous workout? and would it still have the same effect is taken in (1) juice form or (2) blended form?
    I was taking beet (+ beet green) juice before workout and now after seeing you informative video is now deciding to switch to Arugula but eating whole lot before is not practical (too time consuming) and hence the question….

    Many thanks,

  22. This seems like simplistic thinking on the part of the author. 100 grams of leafy greens is a lot to consume (in terms of volume), whereas a serving of 500 grams of beets is not unreasonable. The point is that simply giving a measure of concentration per 100 grams is, perhaps, misleading when normal serving sizes, in terms of grams, can vary widely.

  23. If we’re to eat or blend arugula or any of the high nitrate plant foods, how much would you need to eat or drink for optimum nitrate health or for ED issues?

  24. If I am understanding the process correctly, saliva is a crucial medium in the production of nitric oxide which in turn helps lower blood pressure and other benefits. I recently visited a friend in a nursing home and was saying that her BP was 200 over 200 and the doctors were having a difficult time getting it down. She was also complaining of a very dry mouth caused by the medication she was taking. Dry mouth is a common problem with people on medication. Is there a connection with dry mouth causing high BP or making it worse if someone is on BP meds? Has this been considered by the medical profession or is this a non-issue?

  25. I’m curious how this was measured. Was it by weight, by serving? I love arugula, but it is perhaps easier to eat a half pound of beets then arugula or cilantro. (Of course I realize it is not an either/or thing.)

  26. What happened to spinach in this study? Seems as a green we’d like to know where it falls in the chart. I play golf, and am looking for the best food to eat when I’ve completed 9 of the 18 holes and need an energy boost to regain top performance. I bring apples and bananas and hibiscus tea, but I wonder if a hummus sandwich or tahini sandwich (whole grain bread) with arugula (I prefer spinach) would be better? Always looking for that edge, and better health as well.

  27. It appears that the research here being offered suggesting that nitrates can help with hypertension and heart disease ignores that some people have health conditions, such as migraines, that result from low blood pressure and hypotension, which nitrates will exacerbate (since nitrates converting to nitrite converting to nitric oxide will further lower blood pressure, thus exacerbating migraines).

    Recent research just came out showing that people with migraine headaches have more nitrate producing bacteria in their stomachs and more nitrate reducing bacteria in their mouths. Therefore it seems plausible that some degree of migraine exacerbation is taking place from an overload of nitrates whether meat or plant based due to the fact that the person already produces so much nitrate in their gut already. I think it’s a phenomenon similar to histamine intolerance, which is not just a problem of over-activation of histamine producing mast cells, but from histamine-producing bacteria in the colon which predominate after antibiotic use, making an additional load of histamine through food overwhelming to the gut and head. Glutamates also play a huge role here.

    I’ve discovered drug-free migraine relief through the daily use of what I am calling the SimplyWell Migraine Relief Protocol. The protocol helps to balance the gut flora, support healthy blood pressure and electrolyte balance, and clean lymph through the use of simple, humble culinary foods. Check it out if you’re interested!

    1. DL: No conflict here! This video is part of a series of videos discussing nitrates, nitrites (notice the difference), and processes our bodies us to make the substances healthy vs unhealthy. From what I could tell at a glance, the article you linked to is showing a simple association, which is not a conflict to this overall information. I recommend you watch the whole video series (you can keep clicking ‘Previous Video’ on the right side of the screen until you get to the video. Then watch through to the end, especially a couple of videos after this one..
      As a bit of a spoiler, check out this quote from the previous video: “The nitrate in vegetables, which the body can turn into the vasodilator nitric oxide, may help explain the role dark green leafy vegetables play in the prevention and treatment of hypertension (high blood pressure) and heart disease.”

  28. I would like to know if Arugula sprouts are as good or better in producing Nitric Oxide in the body as the mature plant. I grow my own Broccoli in this manner to increase Sulforaphane and other nutrients. I would be grateful to receive the answer as it will cause me to begin yet another life long healthy habit based upon the answer.

  29. Hi Quin Child,

    I could not find any evidence to show that sprouted arugula would contain higher levels of nitrates. Considering how potent arugula is in the first place in producing nitric oxide, I see no need to be concerned with finding a stronger source. If you do wish to find more potent sources, herbs like mint, oregano, and thyme also contain a large proportion of nitrates, but are typically eaten in small amounts.

    I hope this helps to answer your quesiton, even though I could not find any specific data on sprouted arugula content.

    1. Thanks for your reply to my question. One of my concerns is that sprouted Arugula may actually contain LESS precursors for Nitric Oxide production in the body. If I knew that to be true I would just buy mature Arugula from the store. But if sprouts are about the same or better I much prefer to sprout them myself. That gives me control over having a healthy product and it is easy to do. I have ordered Arugula sprout seeds. But will not really know if that is the best option.

      It is a shame nutrition optimization is not better understood. Every food needs to be tested to see if cooked vs uncooked, mature vs sprout, etc is beneficial or not. Think of all the people choking down cooked broccoli not knowing the simple tricks to maximize the super nutrient Sulforiphane. Most people don’t know that they can triple the bio-availability just by cooking at 40 degrees C for 10 minutes. The ones that do not know this over cook (or under cook) their broccoli or broccoli sprouts killing or impairing this important nutrient. Clearly there are other factors that may affect the nutrition of sprouted vegetables. Things like amount of sunlight, water, temperature etc when the plants are growing. I find it interesting that pea sprouts actually become more beneficial for people that have problems with Histamine when the plants are deprived of sunlight as sprouts. This will product large amounts of DOA (Diamine Oxidase) that is beneficial.

      I would really like to know more about Arugula sprouts and their Nitric Oxide relationship.

  30. For performance application of beet juice it’s recommended that you mix it well with you saliva for bacteria ” nitrate to nitrite” conversion, is this also true of these other veggies? Was Dr Kelloge right that we need to ” Fletcherize ” our food even more than we thought?

  31. Just curious, what is the serving size for arugula vs an 8 oz cup of beet juice? I’m hoping its within reason. My apologies if someone already posted this question.

    1. I know I saw in a study somewhere that you CAN freeze vegetables without sacrificing their nitrates. In fact they mentioned that keeping them at room temperature for extended periods of time will degrade the nitrates by converting them to nitrites. This is also true for pureeing vegetables (best to eat right away after pureeing). I can dig up tat study if you want me to but it might take awhile . . . .

  32. Hi, today I started listening to a Plant Strong podcast interview of Dr. Nathan Bryan on Nitric Oxide, (I’m about 1/2 way thru the podcast). He stated that organic vegetables are significantly lower in nitrates than non-organic due to the difference in fertilizers. I have been buying exclusively organic greens…. this makes me wonder if I shouldn’t throw some conventionally grown greens, just for the additional nitrates. In the chart given above, are the values calculated on conventionally grown produce? Is it possible to have the same chart created for organically grown produce so we can see the difference?

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