There is considerable evidence that there exists a viable plant-based solution to enhancing athletic performance and controlling high blood pressure.  Nitric Oxide, NO, whose precursors are found in leafy green vegetables like arugula, spinach and especially in beetroot, can be a major player in reducing blood pressure. Not only that, but it is now being used as an athletic performance enhancer with professional athletes. “Muscle activity of all sorts involves oxygen demand and NO is so critical in ensuring that oxygen is achieved and maintained in the blood capillaries that supply oxygen to the muscle,” Shawn J. Green, PhD.

With high blood pressure, it is being shown in clinical trials to have a meaningful effect on blood pressure. “NO relaxes blood vessels and can reduce blood pressure,” writes Dr. Green.  In the studies, beets were used, as they are one of the most common dietary source of inorganic nitrate.  Although plant-based diets, such as the DASH or MIND diet are best approaches, one can also take plant-based supplements that elevate NO.   After daily use, people supplementing with inorganic plant-derived nitrate experience a reduction in blood pressure. Thus, it is not a curative solution, but rather a temporary solution, albeit a very effective and drug-free one.

Interestingly, the process of getting the NO out of plant-based foods and into the body, begins in the biome of the saliva. If one were to use an anti-sceptic mouthwash before drinking beet juice, the biome would be destroyed, and there would be no conversion of plant-derived nitrate to NO. As we pointed out in our review of Plant Paradox a few weeks ago, the health of the body’s biome is proving to be a potent influence on our overall health.

This is another example of something we are very interested in- plants as medicine, and the mounting evidence of the health benefits of a mostly plant based diet.