Beets naturally contain plenty of nitrates, which come from nitrogen in the soil. Nitrates convert to nitrites when exposed to bacteria in our mouth. These nitrites then turn into nitric oxide our stomach. When nitric oxide reaches our arteries, they start to relax and expand, which results in lower blood pressure . Dietary nitrites have also been shown to improve your body’s ability to use oxygen during exercise  , which may lead to better performance by allowing you to exercise for a longer time before “hitting the wall.” The evidence is especially strong with exercises that are oxygen dependent – biking, running, swimming  .
So… What’s the buzz around nitrite consumption and increased risk of colorectal cancer?? When nitrites are exposed to high heat, and in the presence of amino acids (protein), they can turn into the carcinogenic compound, nitrosamines. This is the case for sodium nitrites added to cured meats, like cold cuts, pepperoni sticks, and hot dogs.
Cold-pressed beet juice is a whole different ball game, because:
- There is no heat exposure with cold-pressed juices so no nutrients are lost in the heat of traditional pasteurization
- Beets contain vitamin C, which impede the conversion of nitrites to nitrosamines
- Organic fruits and vegetables typically have fewer nitrates compared to conventional, due to the farming practice 
Next time you go for a run or bike ride, fuel up with a bottle of NPJ Heart Beet or NPJ Red Alert to help you optimize your performance! My choice – NPJ Heart Beet because it has celery, another nitrite-rich vegetable. All made from 100% organic and raw fruits and vegetables.
Aim to drink the cold-pressed beet juice 2-3 hours before your activity, to allow blood nitrite levels to reach peak concentration .
- Jessica, RD