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Aims: To investigate the effects of supplementation with high-nitrate and low-nitrate vegetables on plasma nitrate and nitrite concentrations, blood pressure and the oxygen demand of moderate-intensity exercise.
Study Design: A randomized, cross-over design.
Place and Duration of Study: Sport and Health Sciences, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, between January 2011 and March 2012.
Methodology: 15 non-smoking, physically active healthy men (age 25 ± 6 years, BMI 24 ± 4 kg/m2) were randomized to receive a 2-week supply of high-nitrate or low-nitrate vegetables, with a 2-week ‘wash-out’ period in between. Clinic blood pressure, plasma nitrate and nitrite concentrations and physiological responses to moderate-intensity exercise tests were measured before and after each 2-week intervention. Nitrate intake was calculated using nutritional analysis of reported vegetables consumed.
Results: Participants consumed significantly more dietary nitrate on the high-nitrate diet (417 ± 139 mg/day) than the low-nitrate diet (26 ± 11 mg/day). The high-nitrate diet supplied 5.5 mg nitrate/kg body weight, exceeding the Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) of 3.7 mg nitrate/kg body weight. Supplementation with high-nitrate vegetables significantly increased plasma nitrate concentrations (baseline; 30 ± 20 µM, after high-nitrate vegetables; 129 ± 87 µM) and plasma nitrite concentrations (baseline; 119 ± 35 nM, after high-nitrate vegetables; 227 ± 89 nM) but did not significantly change systolic blood pressure or the physiological response to moderate exercise. There were significant correlations between diastolic blood pressure and plasma nitrite concentrations (low-nitrate diet; r = 0.63, high-nitrate diet, r = 0.56).
Conclusion: Supplementation with high-nitrate vegetables above the ADI significantly increased plasma nitrate and nitrate concentrations but did not significantly reduce systolic blood pressure or the physiological response to moderate exercise. Plasma nitrite concentrations significantly correlated with diastolic blood pressure after high-nitrate and low-nitrate diets.
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