Beetroot Juice or Sodium Nitrate for Boosting Nitric Oxide?

Nitric oxide is a gas secreted by the endothelial cells that line the blood vessels. It is critical for regulating blood flow, and optimal nitric oxide metabolism is an important measure of metabolic health. Increasing nitric oxide with nitrate supplements such as beetroot juice or sodium nitrate decreases blood pressure, improves endurance exercise efficiency, boosts endurance and promotes strength during weight-training programs. Beetroot juice is a miracle food. Unfortunately, beetroot is expensive and hard to find. A one-liter bottle at specialty grocery stores costs about $6— if you can find it. Making your own beetroot juice is an option but requires a relatively expensive juicer. Joelle Flueck from the University of Zürich in Switzerland, and colleagues, found that sodium nitrate supplements increased blood nitrate levels as well as beetroot juice but were not as effective for producing changes in oxygen consumption. Overall, beetroot seems to be more effective for enhancing exercise performance and lowering blood pressure than sodium nitrate. (Applied Physiology Nutrition and Metabolism, 41:1-9, 2016)

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