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Heart beet!

Effects of nitrate rich vegetables on health and performance

Cindy 18 Mar 2018

Beetroot and green leafy vegetables (spinach, rocket salad, pak choi), represent an important source of dietary nitrate. Recently, mechanistic work investigating the metabolic fate of dietary intake of nitrate showed an increased nitrogen availability, lower oxygen requirements, and greater performance following an increase in dietary nitrate intake. Furthermore, a higher dietary nitrate intake has been shown to lower blood pressure and lower cardiovascular complications.

Therefore, many of the health and performance benefits of ample vegetable intake may be, at least partly, attributed to the high(er) nitrate content. As a consequence nitrate carriers have become popular nutritional supplements. However, it should be stressed that a higher nitrate intake can be attained by ingesting the proper amount of beetroot or green leafy vegetables. ln combination with the recent changed precautionary measures based on the latest studies of the safety of nitrate intake, further research on the efficacy of (nitrate abundant) vegetables to improve healthy and performance and the effect of dietary counseling to modulate dietary nitrate intake seems relevant both in sports and health.   

Our project investigates the effects of the intake of nitrate rich vegetables on health and performance and evaluates the various counselling strategies that can be used to increase dietary nitrate intake by way of increasing vegetable intake in various populations.

This PhD project is part of Eat2Move, a large-scale collaborative project funded by the province Gelderland in which Radboudumc, HAN University of applied Sciences, Maastricht University and NOC*NSF, work together to provide and apply new knowledge on the specific nutritional needs for performance and health. 

During the first year of our project we looked into the effects of vegetables in healthy adults on plasma nitrate and nitrite and blood pressure, at the University of Maastricht (department of Human Biology). In the upcoming year we will examine the effects on endothelial function and exercise tolerance in patients with peripheral arterial disease (department of physiology).


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