Greger on Beets, Nitrates, and Athletic Performance
Never one to shy away from talking about the benefits of greens, Dr. Michael Greger has a very interesting blog post, Using Greens to Improve Athletic Performance, that highlights his series of videos on nitrates, nitrites, and nitric oxide which are now available on NutritionFacts.org.
To sum it up, beets and many dark leafy greens contain nitrates which can improve athletic performance, by making oxygen usage more efficient, via the body turning the nitrates into nitrites and then into nitric oxide.
But if nitrites from plant foods can be beneficial, what about the nitrites added to cured meat which are supposed to be so harmful? It turns out that in the presence of vitamin C, nitrites from plants are converted to nitric oxide, while the nitrites in meat tend to be turned into nitrosamines which are, in turn, thought to be the culprit in cured meats.