Consuming nitrate-rich vegetables and foods that contain a lot of nitrate in general, contrary to previous belief, does not appear to have any real benefits for cardiometabolic health and could even have harmful effects on the cardiovascular system.
A recent study involving experts from the University of Nottingham examined how dietary nitrate intake affects various cardiometabolic risk markers. The results can be read in the “European Journal of Clinical Nutrition”.
How healthy are dietary nitrates?
To date, dietary nitrates have generally been associated with improvements in cardiometabolic health. Experts have previously assumed that nitrates consumed through food contribute to an improvement in blood pressure and the plasma lipid profile and are beneficial for heart health.
For example, just last year there was a study whose results suggested that nitrate helps prevent cardiovascular disease when it comes from vegetables. However, current research comes to a completely different conclusion.
Almost 1,000 girls examined
In the new study, the team examined a total of 988 adolescent girls from two different regions in Iran. Dietary nitrate intake was assessed using a questionnaire on general frequency of food consumption.
Using linear regression, the researchers attempted to identify possible relationships between total nitrate intake, particularly nitrate intake from vegetables, and various cardiometabolic risk markers.
The risk markers were the blood lipid profile, fasting blood sugar and systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
Effects on triglycerides
According to the team, it showed that even after adjusting for various variables, there was a positive relationship between nitrate intake from vegetables and the so-called triglycerides.
Triglycerides are a type of fat molecule and belong to the group of lipids. The fatty acids that make up triglycerides can be saturated or unsaturated. The body uses triglycerides primarily as an energy reserve. Elevated triglyceride levels are also associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Total nitrate intake (vegetables plus other sources) was also significantly positively associated with serum triglycerides in the study, but this association disappeared after adjusting for various variables, the experts add.
No benefits from nitrate intake
The researchers summarize that there were no significant improvements in cardiometabolic risk markers through nitrate intake from vegetables and that dietary intake of nitrate and/or vitamin C has neutral or even harmful effects on cardiovascular health.
This contradicts the belief that nitrates from vegetables are beneficial for heart health and is not consistent with previous research, so further research is now needed to verify the conflicting results. (as)