What are Nitrates in Beetroots?

People rarely switch their freshly-squeezed orange juice for a glass of beetroot juice.  But unthinkable as it may seem, downing a 250ml glass with its high nitrate-content could very well do you good.

 

What are these so-called nitrates and how will you benefit from it?

Nitrates are nutrients plants need in order to build protein and grow.  They can be found in the soil and our bodies naturally produce nitric oxide to regulate blood pressure, enhance our stamina, fight infection, among other essential functions.

It was two Swedish scientists who found that nitrates in beets (NO3) are broken down into NO2 when mixed with friendly bacteria in the mouth.  After swallowing, when it reaches the stomach wall, another chemical reaction occurs.

Enzymes in the stomach convert NO2 to NO or nitric oxide as it enters our blood stream.  Just an hour after ingestion, people who took food with high concentration of nitrate experience a decrease in their blood pressure.

This effect was associated to the nitrate found in beetroots.  The nitrates found in beets is said to also work like aspirin – it prevents blood clots and protects the lining of the blood vessels.

Today, beets are used as the primary source of dietary nitrate in most human research trials.

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