What’s So Great About Nitrates?

What’s So Great About Nitrates?

AKA: What’s so Great about Beets, Take Two!

I was recently reading some impressive stats on beets (or beetroot, if you’re British and fancy). I thought, “I simply must share this info with the SPC readers. ” And then I checked back and realized I had already written this post. Which begs the question, “am I a black-out drunk and I just don’t realize it”? No matter, because this is new information, hot off the presses and just may get your kids to consider drinking beet juice. Now I know you’re saying, “Why yes, yes Kathy, I do believe you may be drunk right now if you think my kid’s going to drink beet juice,” but hear me out.  Beet juice just may make them run faster! Take that, track and field day.


The key seems to be in the naturally occurring nitrates in leafy green veggies and especially in beets. Of course, the word nitrate conjures visions of processed hot dogs and bacon and all the endless scary studies that have shown them to be carcinogenic. So what gives? According to www.precisionnutrition.com  “Dietary nitrates and nitrites seem to be harmful…  except when consumed in their naturally occurring vegetable form.”  So, when totally healthy and natural nitrates are added to meat products as a preservative, they can take on cancer- causing properties, as is also the case with nitrites, also added to meats. Bottom line? Nitrates in meats: no bueno. Nitrates in beets: muy bueno.

If we look back to the original “What’s So Great about Beets” post, we know that beets can increase blood flow to the brain, helping to stave off dementia in later years. Plus, they are full of cancer-protective antioxidants and recent research conducted at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and reported on www.CBS.com showed that adults with elevated blood pressure who drank 8 ounces of beet juice, lowered their BP for up to 24 hours.

Okay great, but most kids aren’t compelled by the promise of reasonable blood pressure and the prevention of dementia. That’s a little too long-term for the average 10 year old. My dad used to tell us we should eat our veggies because “it’ll put hair on your chest”! Ummm, its called “knowing your audience, Dad. Had he told me I could kick ass in the 100m dash, I may have considered it.  Here’s how Precision Nutrition explains it:

“Nitric oxide does a lot of things, but in terms of exercise it increases blood flow to the muscles, making it easier for your power generators (mitochondria) to produce energy (ATP). Subjects who ate 200 grams of beets 75 minutes before running, ran an average of 3% faster during a 5k run and up to 5% faster at certain points in the run”.

Beet juice smoothie anyone?

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1 Comment

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