Are Nitrates Good For You? – Recent Research

Are Nitrates Good for You
Are Nitrates Good for You

Findings of Recent Cardiovascular Study Asking “Are Nitrates Good For You?” 

Over 2200 Americans die of CVD daily, with about one death every 40 seconds.

The Problem: 

The leading cause of global deaths, cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), claim and an estimated 17.9 million lives each year. CVDs affect the heart and blood vessels.

They include coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, myocardial infarction, and many other serious conditions.

The World Health Organization estimates that over 2200 Americans die of CVD daily, with about one death every 40 seconds. 

The History:

Between 1993 and 1997, a team of more than 250 international researchers recruited enrollees in the Danish Diet, Cancer, and Health study. They then followed the 50,153 healthy participants aged 50 to 65 for an average of 23 years.

Their goal was to examine potential links between its enrollees’ diets and lifestyles and cancer development.

The data collected from them became the basis for a prospective cohort study from Australian and Danish researchers, which appeared in the European Journal of Epidemiology in April 2021.

Its goal was to answer the question “Are nitrates good for you?” concerning cardiovascular disease.

The Findings:

Their data showed that consuming a moderate amount of vegetable nitrates did reduce CVD risk. 

Participants with a vegetable-nitrate intake of about 60 mg per day experienced, on average, 15-percent lower CVD. The earlier studies looking at the same connection, including:

  • The Perth Longitudinal Study of Aging in Women
  • The Australian Blue Mountains Eye Study
  • The Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health

supported these results.

So, if you’re concerned about cardiovascular disease, based on these four studies, the scientifically supported answer to the question “Are nitrates good for you?” is “Yes!”

Why It Matters:

Finding scientifically based, observable strategies for CVD prevention is a global research priority. One important strategy is to identify or devise cardioprotective diets.

The inorganic nitrate our bodies get from vegetables and convert to nitric oxide is potentially cardioprotective. So the researchers’ decision to use data collected in the Danish Diet, Health, and Cancer study makes great sense.

The Danish Diet Provides Nitrates and Other Healthy Nutrients

The Danish diet emphasizes eating healthy food over cutting calories. High-nitrate vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, and parsnips regularly show up on their plates.

So does rye bread, a great source of:

  • magnesium
  • iron
  • water-soluble vitamins

and heart-healthy fiber.

They also snack on fresh fruits and berries loaded with antioxidants that can significantly reduce your risk of numerous diseases.

Why We Might Be Asking, “Are Nitrates Good for You?”

The European Food Safety Authority explains it this way:

Our bodies quickly absorb the nitrates from food. They “recirculate” some of it through our salivary glands, where our oral bacteria convert it to nitrites. We excrete what’s left (about 75 percent) still in nitrate form.

However, in some cases, the nitrites we absorb may interfere with our red blood cells’ ability to carry oxygen throughout our bodies.

According to EFSA, nitrites present in food such as processed meatand nitrate converted to nitrite in the body” may also “... contribute to the formation of… nitrosamines, some of are carcinogenic.”

Read more about the difference between nitrates from vegetables and meat in a blog post Gregg wrote here.

Where To Get Your Heart-Healthy Nitrates:

Wondering how to ensure you’re getting 60 mg of nitrates from vegetables each day?

Look no further than this research review from Satnam Lidder, MD, and Andrew J. Webb, MD of King’s College London British Heart Foundation Centre, Cardiovascular Division.

It supplies a very helpful Nitrate ‘Veg-Table’ with the estimated nitrate content for 80g g(1/3 cup) of each site on the list.

Veg-Table - Are Nitrates Good For You

The authors are basing their recommendations on not exceeding the EFSA’s maximum “safe” nitrate consumption of 260 mg (4.2 mol) a day for a 155-pound (70 kg) adult.

That’s more than four times what the recent study found helpful for your cardiovascular health!

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