Nitrates improve endurance

    Nitrates, such as beetroot juice and sodium nitrate, improve endurance, according to a meta-analysis by researchers from the University of Sydney in Australia. The study pooled the results of 17 studies that administered nitrates for one to 15 days. Nitrates had a small but significant effect on endurance performance. Beetroot juice contains nitrate that the blood vessels use to produce nitric oxide, a critical chemical that promotes blood flow, improves sexual performance and enhances energy levels. The capacity of the endothelial cells (cells lining the blood vessels) to secrete nitric oxide is an important measure of cardiovascular health and performance. Nitrates from food sources such as processed meats might increase the risk of cancer, so it’s probably best to consume beets rather than foods such as hotdogs or bologna. (International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, published online March 21, 2013)