When we hear the word nitrates, we always associate it with something harmful, but it's time to learn how the natural nitrates found in many vegetables actually relax and dilate blood vessels, thereby improving blood flow and lowering blood pressure. pressure. Because they contain nitric oxide (NO), which, it turns out, acts as a powerful vasodilator, i.e. it widens blood vessels, improving blood flow and lowering blood pressure
A diet rich in nitrates is very important protection for your heart, even in old age. The clarification follows immediately: do not confuse nitrates with nitrites, which are contained in bacon, hot dogs, ham and other unhe althy meats. Because nitrites can turn into potentially dangerous nitrosamines, especially when heated. In short, better avoid processed meat. This is also seen after an analysis of more than 7,000 clinical studies, according to which there is no safe lower limit for the use of processed meat and it is desirable to give it up.
On the other hand, many vegetables contain natural nitrates. During their use, bacteria in the oral cavity convert them into nitrites, but since vegetables are also rich in antioxidants, they do not pose a he alth hazard. Dilation of blood vessels thanks to the powerful vasodilator nitric oxide also increases blood flow. And this helps our body function at its peak, as blood carries oxygen and nutrients to the heart, brain and other organs. Again, the blood feeds and oxygenates the immune system and muscles, keeps the heart beating.
A diet high in nitrates is recommended for the treatment of pre-hypertension and hypertension itself, as well as for the prevention of heart attacks. According to research presented by world-renowned Dr. Michael Gregor, a high-nitrate diet is a natural strategy recommended for
treatment of prehypertension and hypertension,
as well as to protect people at risk of cardiovascular problems.
In fact, raw beetroot, which contains a large amount of nitrates, lowers blood pressure by an average of 4-5 units in just a few hours. Some studies show that a glass of beet juice can lower the upper limit by more than 8 units - much more than drugs. In traditional medicine, nitrates are used to treat angina and congestive heart failure. Research shows that a glass of beetroot juice has the same effect as prescription nitrates.
Nitric oxide contributes to the normal functioning of the heart and brain. In a recent study, patients with high blood pressure who consumed beetroot juice one hour before exercise, three times a week, for six weeks, experienced an increase in tissue oxygenation and blood flow. In addition, the neuroplasticity of the brain has improved due to the improved oxygenation of the so-called somatomotor area of the cerebral cortex - this is the area of the brain that is often damaged in the early stages of dementia.
Both the brain and the heart need nitric oxide and oxygen to function optimally. Here's what cardiologist Dr. Stephen Sinatra notes in this regard: “Adequate production of nitric oxide is the first step in a chain reaction that promotes cardiovascular he alth. While a lack of nitric oxide triggers a cascade of harmful consequences that ultimately lead to heart disease. Nitric oxide helps dilate veins and arteries so blood can move throughout the body. In addition, it prevents the erythrocytes from sticking together and the formation of dangerous thrombi and blockages”.
See which products contain the highest amount of natural nitrates:
As Dr. Michael Gregor points out, leafy greens top the list of nitrate-rich foods. Beetroot, which is a root crop, is known for being high in nitrates, but leafy greens have more. Here are the top 10 products rich in natural nitrates:
• Arugula - 480 mg of nitrates per 100 grams
• Rhubarb - 281 mg
• Coriander - 247 mg
• Lettuce, curly - 200 mg
• Early leafy greens - 188 mg
• Basil - 183 mg
• Beetroot leaves and stems - 177 mg
• Oak leaf salad (Oakliffe) - 155 mg
• Mangold - 151 mg
• Red beets - 110 mg
Of course, the list can be continued: carrots, mustard greens, spinach, Chinese cabbage, eggplants, parsley, turnips, cauliflower, broccoli, artichokes, garlic, onions also contain sufficient amounts of nitrates. Although garlic is low in nitrates, it helps boost nitric oxide production.
Previous research shows that the more vegetables and fresh fruits we consume, the lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. And leafy greens protect the best of all. As Dr. Michael Gregor points out, the reason for this is more likely to be nitrates increasing the level of nitric oxide. This was confirmed by a May 2017 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Almost 1,230 Australian retirees without atherosclerotic vascular disease or diabetes participated in this study. They were observed for 15 years. As expected, the more nitrates they consumed from vegetables, the lower their risk of atherosclerosis and all-cause mortality. According to the study authors: "Vegetable nitrate intake was inversely related to atherosclerosis mortality, independent of lifestyle and cardiovascular risk factors, among older women without a prevalent diagnosis of atherosclerosis or diabetes." These results support the concept that nitrate-rich vegetables may reduce the risk of death in old age due to atherosclerosis."
What do we really need to know about nitrous oxide?
Nitric oxide (NO) should not be confused with nitrous oxide (N2O). Nitric oxide actually serves our body as a signaling or transmitting molecule in every cell of our body. Thus, it participates in a wide variety of physiological and pathological processes. As has already become clear, this molecule leads to the dilation of arteries and bronchioles, but it is also necessary for communication between brain cells. It also stimulates immune cells to kill bacteria and cancer cells. Keep in mind that our body loses about 10% of its ability to create nitric oxide every decade of life, which is why a nitrate-rich diet is so important.