Wellness is not just how you feel, it’s how you coexist with the world in challenging times. In the face of adversity, it’s even more important than ever to have something you can rely on. Here are some tips on getting the best heart health from your veggies. If you’ve been wanting to learn how to cook quick healthy meals, here’s your chance!
Nitrates from vegetables increase the nitric oxide that your body makes. Nitric oxide is one of the most important molecules in your body - especially for heart health, but also for antiviral immune health, your lungs, making your workouts better, and more. Check out more on nitric oxide and nitrates here!
You’ve got to get enough to actually get the benefits.
A healthy person can make about 20-40 mg of nitrite per day for baseline function, but if you want sustained energy through the day you need to get 300-400 mg of nitrates in a day!
To make things worse, natural nitrate sources never have the same levels batch to batch, and the nitrate supplements they’re made into are inconsistent too (Gonzalez 2015; Gallardo & Coggan 2018).
So what can you do to make sure you get results? Two things:
Getting enough of the top vegetables gives you the peace of mind to come out of this pandemic not just surviving, but thriving.
More than ever, now is the time to pay attention to your cardiovascular health. Besides old age, heart disease and hypertension are the primary reasons you are more likely to end up in critical care with Covid-19 (CDC).
What are the other conditions that make you more at risk for bad outcomes with Covid-19? Obesity, diabetes, lung diseases, poor immune function, and more.
All of these also make your nitric oxide levels go down. Low nitric oxide hurts your lungs and hurts your immune system. If you want to dive deep on this, check out our research review here.
Really the best news about boosting your nitrates is that you're boosting your immune system, your heart health, your muscles and joints, and your entire health with the combination of nutrients in nitrate-rich vegetables.
It hurts to see that the top experts are thinking that Covid-19 isn’t going away anytime soon, even though we all wish it would.
As long as social distance is the new normal, it is the time to get your health back, whatever that means for you. With the right diet you can have the energy to match your goals too!
You’ll be happy to know that the veggies highest in nitrates are also some of the most nutritious vegetables in the world, and they won’t hurt your wallet.
Although sources differ in the exact content, which shows just how variable and unstandardized nitrates are in foods, the very best whole-food nitrate sources are:
First off, why are beets so far down this list when everybody and their grandma (literally, for blood pressure) is taking beet root supplements? Looks like there are better options out there; that’s one reason why we made Resync in the first place.
But, in all seriousness, what’s the common thread here? Or rather, the common color?
Greens and reds. It’s that simple.
All of these deep-colored veggies fill in key gaps left by a typical American diet (USDA). Things like calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, omega-3s, vitamins A, C, E, K - all of which are important for energy and essential for immunity. We’ll be covering more on what vitamins you need for antiviral immune health soon!
A little less talked about are how some of these vitamins and the specific and unique plant chemicals found alongside them work to improve your health at a systemic level.
What do I mean?
Take for example how sulfur-containing veggies like cabbage and kale enhance your entire body’s ability to fight inflammation by raising glutathione levels and providing the minerals glutathione needs to work it’s best. Start here to learn more about how to boost glutathione in our blog series on it.
Or, how adding the fiber that comes with any vegetable helps vitamin absorption: it gives your gut more time to soak up those colorful vitamins, and it feeds your bacteria so they can make the vitamins that we humans aren’t able to!
Another is how nitrates work to increase blood flow, fight inflammation and oxidation That can have powerful consequences for helping the other antioxidants found in plants to do their job.
On the flip side, aronia berry, curcumin, and mango can each increase your body’s ability to make nitric oxide; it’s a two-way street.
In short, the combination of these nutrients work together to get your body moving into higher gear.
Red spinach is far and away the best source of natural nitrates known. That said, it’s not all that easy to find it outside of a bottle of Resync.
So, until we start seeing red spinach on the shelves, we’ll have to settle with arugula, or “rocket” as it’s known in some places.
I say “settle”, but really a single serving of arugula packs in enough nitrate to boost performance and lower blood pressure; 1 serving of arugula gives you nearly 500mg of natural nitrates.
It’s even been shown to be as good or better than beets and spinach, and far better than an equal amount of synthetic sodium nitrate (Jonvik 2016).
Try spicing up any savory dish with arugula. Mix it into grain bowls and salads, sprinkle it on top of a roasted root veggie tray. Spice up your life and spruce up your energy with this green.
Throw some coconut, avocado, or another heat-stable oil and some spices on a tray of chopped beets, carrots, and leeks for a side dish that delivers more than just nitrates. Roast your veggies in the oven until the leeks start to brown at the edges for a delectable caramelized sweet-savory sensation.
You get betalains, beta-carotenes, vitamin C, K, and minerals all in one hearty dish. Add it to a whole grain like quinoa or buckwheat, and you have an energy-enhancing powerhouse of a meal.
Bok choy and mustard greens are long-standing stir fry favorites. When they’re combined, they give you just about 400 mg of nitrates - the magic number to get to the cardiovascular enhancing level.
If you’ve got other ingredients, start with cooking them - I like to saute my garlic, onion, ginger, and chili peppers first. Toss in the bok choy part way through, and finish with your mustard greens near the end.
By keeping the heat on medium high and the cooking time to a minimum, you save time and you maximize flavor: win-win.
You know you’ve done it right if your bok choy keeps it’s crunch and your mustard greens turn bright green. Remove from heat as soon as they start to turn pale green, and serve with a drizzle of sesame or olive oil and a little spicy sauce of your choice.
You probably already noticed that you might find those ingredients in any conventional salad. So, mix and match leafy lettuces, finely sliced cabbage, shredded carrots, and some cucumber. But remember: to get enough nitrates to get the studies benefit, we’re not talking about a side salad here, make it a main course by adding some almonds or chickpeas and dress generously with olive oil, vinegar, and some fresh cracked black pepper and you cannot go wrong.
Add some more spice with a basil pesto. I’ll let you in on a cash-sparing secret: you don’t have to use pine nuts, the age-old standard for making pesto!
That’s right, just pick any nut you like - walnuts, peanuts, almonds, whatever - and blend it to aromatic creaminess with a handful of basil, a pinch of salt, and a generous dose of olive oil. Need to pinch pennies or try something new? Just use cilantro instead of basil for a truly inexpensive superfood.
Let’s be honest, the classic dish that leaves you feeling like you could hibernate - fish and steak - could use an update.
Pair your fish with a different kind of turf - the leafy green kind - and pack on the glow, not the pounds. Were talking literally here: most surf and turf entrees are a couple of pounds of meat!
Start by roasting your salmon with a drizzle of olive oil, black pepper, and a squeeze of lemon. While that’s roasting, steam or lightly saute spinach, collards, chard, or beet greens. Lay the slab of fish on a bed of fresh cooked greens and you’ll set yourself up for success no matter what you’re doing.
When you’re cooking your greens, keep in mind that they may lose a little bit of the nitrate content (Salehzadeh 2020). But since they wilt down, you can eat significantly more, so don’t be afraid to throw the whole bunch of leaves in the pan!
As you can see, it’s not hard to get the nitrates you need to show up your best. No matter why you’re trying to stay fit while staying in, these tips will certainly help you add some kick to your routine!
We’ll be covering all these topics and more, but that’s just scratching our own itch. What do you want to know?
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While some media is trying to drive revenue through clickbait and fake news, we make sure to back up our claims with hard data and a sensible perspective. We believe that when you have the right information, you’re empowered to make the best decision for yourself. That’s why we break down complex science into practical takeaways you can use today.
Wishing you the best in your health and your safety,
The Resync Team
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html. Published March 26, 2020. Accessed March 26, 2020.
Gallardo, Edgar J., and Andrew R. Coggan. “What’s in Your Beet Juice? Nitrate and Nitrite Content of Beet Juice Products Marketed to Athletes.” International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, vol. 29, no. 4, 01 2019, pp. 345–349. PubMed, doi:10.1123/ijsnem.2018-0223.
González, Maryuri T. Nuñez De, et al. “A Survey of Nitrate and Nitrite Concentrations in Conventional and Organic-Labeled Raw Vegetables at Retail.” Journal of Food Science, vol. 80, no. 5, 2015, doi: 10.1111/1750-3841.12858.
Hord, Norman G., et al. “Food Sources of Nitrates and Nitrites: The Physiologic Context for Potential Health Benefits.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 90, no. 1, Oxford Academic, July 2009, pp. 1–10. academic.oup.com, doi:10.3945/ajcn.2008.27131.
Jonvik KL, Nyakayiru J, Pinckaers PJ, Senden JM, van Loon LJ, Verdijk LB. Nitrate-Rich Vegetables Increase Plasma Nitrate and Nitrite Concentrations and Lower Blood Pressure in Healthy Adults. J Nutr. 2016;146(5):986-993. doi:10.3945/jn.116.229807
USDA, Agricultural Research Service, 2019. Usual Nutrient Intake from Food and Beverages, by Gender and Age, What We Eat in America, NHANES 2013-2016 Available http://www.ars.usda.gov/nea/bhnrc/fsrg
Written by registered dietitian, Detrick Snyder, MPH, RDN. Updated 09/22/2020