Foods high in polyphenols and nitrates can improve the performance of athletes

Polyphenol- and nitrate-rich foods such as beets, bright red vegetables are more commonly found Ukrainian borscht A new review of previous studies by researchers at the University of South Australia than a breakfast cocktail may have a negligible positive effect on endurance exercises.

Ukrainian borscht.  Video Credit: Liz West / CC BY-SA 4.0.

Ukrainian borscht. Video Credit: Liz West / CC BY-SA 4.0.

“Increasing bioavailability nitric oxide (NO), a signaling molecule involved in many physiological processes, can cause physiological effects that improve the effectiveness of endurance exercises, ”said a doctor of science at the University of South Australia. candidate Noah D’Unienville and his colleagues.

“Our review sought to assess the effects of consuming foods that contain compounds that can promote the bioavailability of nitric oxide.

In their review study, the authors analyzed data from 118 studies involving 1,872 participants from 25 countries.

They rated foods high in nitrates (usually green leafy vegetables), foods high in polyphenols (such as berries, cherries, and cocoa), L-citrulline (found in watermelons), and L-arginine (found in seafood, nuts, seeds). , soy protein isolate and watermelon) for exercise endurance.

They found that the amount of nitrate in beets, which has been shown to improve blood circulation and increase the supply of nutrients and oxygen to the muscles during exercise, helped athletes perform faster.

Similarly, the polyphenols in grapes, cherries, and pine bark extract helped protect nitrates from breaking down in the body, thus increasing endurance.

And despite the ability of L-citrulline to increase nitric oxide production in the body, watermelon consumption did not improve exercise.

“These findings provide additional evidence that food is a natural endurance booster,” D’Unienville said.

“There’s a lot of interest in foods high in nitrates and polyphenols because they can improve exercise performance, but just because they contain those elements doesn’t mean it will improve exercise performance.

“While our study shows that beets (among other foods) can improve performance, other nitrate-containing foods such as red spinach, Swiss chard and rhubarb have not shown similar benefits.

“In addition, while grapes, pine bark extract and sour cherries can help athletes achieve better and faster results, we did not find any effects on other foods rich in polyphenols, including black currants, cocoa, ginseng, green tea or raisins.

“While these foods have been effective in improving exercise and endurance, their effects have been discriminatory,” said John Buckley, a professor at the University of South Australia.

“The results showed that the effect of less physical fitness on athletes was more significant, and men benefited more from this food than women.

“Of course, there were some limitations regarding the sample size for women, but this finding suggests that further research is warranted.

“In summary, we know that it takes time and effort to exercise, but add a glass of beet juice to your workout schedule and you’ll see the difference.

The results were published in Journal of the International Sports Nutrition Society.


NMA d’Unienville etc. 2021. Effects of Nitrates, Polyphenols, L-Arginine, and L-Citrulline on Food Sources on Endurance Exercise: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Studies. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 18, 76; doi: 10.1186 / s12970-021-00472-y

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