Growing up, one thing that was a given in any Australian household was hearing your mum say “eat your greens, they are good for you”. The technical reasons for eating a varied diet full of fruit and vegetables relates to their macro and micronutrient components, along with their fibre content - all of which are critical to consume for good health.
Until recently, it was not yet well established in scientific literature yet another reason why eating your greens may be beneficial: leafy greens contain a compound called nitrates. Turns out these little gems do a whole lot of good, and your mum probably never even knew about them!
NITRATES (NO3-) are inorganic components of vegetables which are are converted in the human body to NITRITES (NO2-) and then NITRIC OXIDE (NO)
NITRIC OXIDE (NO) is a gaseous signalling molecule that results in various, critical physiological functions such as improved blood pressure, neurotransmission, enhanced blood flow to muscles, improved muscle efficiency and better sexual health.
Natural sources rich in nitrates include beets, celery, rocket/arugula, lettuce, radishes and spinach. Daily consumption goal is recommended at 3.7mg/kilogram of bodyweight. The average person only consumes 75mg/day.
UP BEET contains a science backed and independently verified quantity of 143mg NITRATES per daily serve and 429mg NITRATES per performance/sports serve.
What are nitrates and why do I need them in my diet?
The consumption of nitrates and subsequent formation of nitric oxide (NO) is considered to be an essential part of human functioning. Nitrates are a direct catalyst for a process called vasodilation. Vasodilation is the widening of blood vessels in the body and this function is paramount to human health, as the process itself is utilised by the body to deliver oxygenated blood to areas that are in greatest need. Increased vasodilation also acts as a transporter for glucose, fats, and other nutrients throughout the body (1-4).
The effects of NO can be seen all over the body including in brain function (neurotransmission), wound healing, haemoglobin delivery of oxygen in the blood, blood flow, blood clotting, muscle contractility, glucose sensitivity and mitochondrial function. It also assists with inflammation control, the body’s immune system and even penile erectile dysfunction! Natural sources rich in nitrates include beetroot, celery, rocket/arugula, lettuce, radishes and spinach. Daily consumption goal is recommended at 3.7mg/kilogram of body weight, however the average person only consumes 75mg/day.(3)
Take the pressure down: nitrates for blood pressure regulation
Yet another major reason to consider taking a nitrate-rich beet powder extract (and certainly upping your intake of leafy green vegetables) is that it can lower your blood pressure. In one 2008 study, when doses of 144-200mg nitrates (the equivalent to 200g amount of actual nitrate-containing vegetables) were provided to subjects it was observed that diastolic and systolic blood pressure was reduced by up to 10mmHg (6).
Furthermore, the inability to produce NO serves as a risk factor for chronic disease formation including heart disease, metabolic syndrome and peripheral artery disease. With this in mind and with the knowledge that as we age we have increased risk of platelet aggregation and reduced vascular function, it makes sense to include a daily amount of nitrates in your diet.
Where can I find nitrates?
Nitrates are inorganic components found within vegetables, particularly leafy green ones (the type of vegetables you already know you should be eating every day), of which you should ideally be consuming at least six servings per day.
Realising the nitrate content of vegetables was only a relatively recent scientific discovery (1). Prior to the 1980s, it was thought that nitrates were only produced by the body via the conversion of the amino acid L-arginine into nitrites and then finally, nitrates. Thankfully, as nutritional research has progressed, so too has the knowledge that you can improve your body’s stores of nitrates via a diet rich in leafy, green vegetables.
The Power of Beetroot
Beetroot (and beetroot powder extracts) happens to be one of the worlds most nitrate-rich vegetables. A high concentration of antioxidant substances called betalains provide many beneficial effects and are also responsible for the deep red-purple colouration of beetroot. Beets are known to be a rich source of antioxidants and micronutrients including potassium, betaine, sodium, magnesium, vitamin C and perhaps most notably, inorganic nitrate (NO3) - for this reason, beet extract was chosen to make Up Beet.
Wellbeing is very important to us all, now more so than ever. Research has shown consistently that a single-serve or consumption of vegetables or nitrate-containing products can have an effect on the body, and this is amplified with continual consumption (2,5). With this in mind, True wanted to create a convenient and delicious tasting formula that could easily be integrated into your everyday routine - enter Up Beet.
Add Up Beet to your smoothie each day or simply shake it with water and ice to feel benefits such as:
- Increased blood flow
- Increased oxygen delivery to muscles
- Improved muscle efficiency
- Improved muscle power
- Reduced blood pressure
- Enhanced immunity
- Superior well-being
- Natural energy boost
Daily general health serve (1 tablespoon) = 143mg nitrates
Sports performance serve (3 tablespoons) = 400+mg nitrates. Read more about Up Beet for sports performance here.
We source our beet extract from a premier manufacturer in India. The company is a provider of herbal extracts and minerals and has been acknowledged with many national and international awards including a supply chain transparency + sustainability award for their continued support of small farming communities.
The company is responsible for an ambitious reforestation program for the Indian Kino tree, regarded as the first of its kind in the herbal industry. It is planting over 165,000 trees on 250 acres over the next ten years - we love this initiative.
Tested for True Potency
True are always striving to refine and innovate our products through research and development. We have had Up Beet analysed and tested by the National Measurement Institute of Australia, a government facility responsible for maintaining Australia’s standards of measurement.
Upon return of the results, the nutritional properties of Up Beet were exactly what we were anticipating! Up Beet utilises a standardised red beetroot powder extract that contains no less than 2% nitrates. Due to its higher water-soluble nature, the beetroot extract has more bioavailability, further enhancing its absorption. The results are attached (here) and viewable on our website alongside the nutritional information panel (NIP).
Why is nitrate validation important to us and you?
In the world of sports supplementation, not all products are created equally. Several studies have investigated various beet powder supplements on the market and unfortunately, most do not deliver what they claim to contain.
Gallardo & Coggan tested 26 supplements in 2019(7). Only five of those tested had the claimed amount of nitrates within them. Up Beet has not yet been included in any such studies, but knowing our product can back itself means we would welcome the opportunity to be involved in further research. We strive to be True so you can Be You.
True Tip: Don’t wash your mouth out
Another saying mum may have had for you was “wash your mouth out!”. Well, in this case, mum may have been wrong (well, certainly if you are attempting to maximise the effect of nitrates on the body’s physiological functions). A really important consideration when consuming foods or a supplement containing nitrates is that nitrates are concentrated in your saliva via an active transport system. Nitrates are concentrated by at least ten-fold in saliva. It is estimated that up to 25% of dietary nitrates are salvaged during enterosalivary circulation. It is the bacteria in the mouth that convert the nitrates (NO3-) to nitrites (NO2-) and then subsequently to nitric oxide (NO).
Consequently, the use of certain mouthwashes immediately prior to consuming nitrates should be avoided. This is because chlorhexidine-based mouthwashes have shown to inhibit the body’s response to nitrates and increase blood pressure values in both animal and human studies, implicating the necessity of oral bacteria for nitrate bioactivation. (1-3) This is not to say you should not brush your teeth after consuming leafy vegetables or a nitrate-containing supplement: we simply advise you do not use mouthwash beforehand.
Closing thought: a new way of thinking about supplements and diet?
A new trend is currently emerging in the nutrition arena. It suggests that along with reduced caloric (and possibly carbohydrate and fat) intake, diets rich in foods that stimulate nitric oxide bioavailability (e.g., nitrate and nitrite enriched foods such as beetroot powder extracts like Up Beet) are viable options for seeking a variety of health benefits. Indeed, along with daily physical activity, dietary intake of foods containing nitrates could and should be considered a first-line target for disease prevention.
Now that you understand and appreciate the importance of nitrates for health, let’s get into the juicy science of nitrates for improvement in exercise performance!
Gladwin, Mark T et al. 2015 “The emerging biology of the nitrite anion.” Nature chemical biology vol. 1,6: 308-14.
Clements, William T et al. “Nitrate ingestion: a review of the health and physical performance effects.” Nutrients vol. 6,11 5224-64. 18 Nov. 2014 Nitrite and Nitrate in Human Health and Disease.
Nitrite and Nitrate in Human Health and Disease. http://link.springer.com/book/10.1007%2F978-1-60761-616-0
Krause et al. Differential nitric oxide levels in the blood and skeletal muscle of type 2 diabetic subjects may be consequence of adiposity: a preliminary study. Metabolism. 2012 Nov; 61(11):1528-37.
Lee, Jae-Seok et al. 2015. “Effects of chronic dietary nitrate supplementation on the hemodynamic response to dynamic exercise.” American journal of physiology. Regulatory, integrative and comparative physiology vol. 309,5
Webb, Andrew J et al. “Acute blood pressure lowering, vasoprotective, and antiplatelet properties of dietary nitrate via bioconversion to nitrite.” Hypertension (Dallas, Tex. : 1979) vol. 51,3 (2008): 784-90.
Gallardo, Edgar J., and Andrew R. Coggan. 2019 "What Is in Your Beet Juice? Nitrate and Nitrite Content of Beet Juice Products Marketed to Athletes". International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism 29.4: 345-349.