When it comes to nitric oxide release, scientific research suggests anthocyanin flavonoids may be very helpful with increasing nitric oxide levels in your body.1 There is increasing scientific research showing promising results that nitric oxide has many functions in the body: dilation of blood vessels, increased oxygen to the mitochondria, increased blood flow, and platelets functioning.
The Power of Beet Juice and Tart Cherry
It is well documented that when foods containing anthocyanins are used together, they work synergistically to increase the benefits of these powerful flavonoids.2 The health benefits of anthocyanins include:
● Lowering Blood Pressure
● Increased Mental Performance
● Increased Oxygen to Vital Organs
A study published in 2010 in Nutrition Reviews concluded that red berries containing anthocyanins improved cardiovascular health and had anti-inflammatory effects on the body. According to the study, participants experienced the following benefits from anthocyanins: reduced oxidative stresses, increased nitric oxide formation in the body, and reduced arterial stiffness.
The Power of Beet Juice
Research has shown beet juice can reduce oxidative stress on the body, increase nitric oxide levels, and provide all the benefits of anthocyanins.
Researchers assume that beetroot can reduce the oxygen cost of exercise to the muscles by assisting the body with converting nitrates to nitrite and then nitric oxide which is key in relaxing the blood vessels and increasing oxygen to the muscles.
Studies demonstrated that giving subjects 0.5 L of beet juice prior to exercise increased the levels of nitrite in the blood. Their blood pressure was reduced both during exercise and at rest. They also experienced an 18 percent increase in stamina than without beet juice, with an increased exercise tolerance of about 20 percent.
Profoundly, tissue samples taken from the calf muscle showed increased blood perfusion to the tissues. Researchers concluded that the beet juice was most likely responsible for better blood flow, most likely from increased nitric oxide.
The Benefits of Tart cherry
Recent research is looking into the suggestion that tart cherry juice has powerful anti-inflammatory actions on the body. Tart cherry may also have high levels of antioxidants that together may help increase muscle recovery and reduce exercise stress.
They are also helpful in rebuilding the energy stores, helping your muscle cells synthesize protein, and help your body adapt to exercise stress.
Tart cherries contains the flavonoids Quercetin and Anthocyanin, which are powerful antioxidants in the cells that give the cells donated electrons that react to oxygen in order to make cells “self-supporting.” When the muscles become injured, these flavonoids work to dilate blood vessels sending needed compounds to help relieve pain of injury and repair the injuries quickly.
Results came from giving subjects at least 45 cherries per day over the course of about a month. Inflammation markers were then tested and showed lower levels after the ingestion of cherries. It is now known there is a definite clinical significance with tart cherry being able to reduce inflammation in the body, but further research is needed.
The evidence has been found in studies that tart cherry is a very realistic all-natural way to reduce inflammation pre and post-exercise without the use of synthetic anti-inflammatories. The actual mechanism that triggers the anti-inflammatory action is still under investigation, as well as any adverse effects on other health conditions.
The Perfect Union
There is no catch here either. Many athletes are under the assumption that reducing inflammation pre-exercise takes away from muscles being “pumped” for exercise. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Numerous (and numbers are growing) athletes use tart cherry and beet juice preparations pre-workout to help start the anti-inflammatory effects before inflammation even happens.
One study published in the, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, concluded that flavonoids like Quercetin in your diet can help to increase the effects of nitric oxide, reducing inflammation and improving cell repair.3
When the flavonoid quercetin found in tart cherries is paired with the nitrates in beetroot, they augment each other giving double the effects for oxygenation, healing, and overall better performance. In thinking about flavonoids in general, they have several functions across the board. These include:
● Increasing Nitric Oxide production by the body
● Preventing adhesion in the blood vessel walls and preventing inflammatory markers from being released
● Suppression of inflammatory markers pre-inflammation.
This gives you the best of both of these power packed foods to increase the effects on performance and overall health. This effect is not only limited to tart cherries and beetroot, but may also be achieved with any combination of foods that contain flavonoids, including:
● Tart Cherries
● Blue, Purple, and Red Berries
● Beets, Other Red Vegetables
● Tree Fruits like; Bananas, Plums, Peaches, Citrus Fruits, and Apples
● Dark Beans, Walnuts, and Pecans
● Leafy Greens
● Dark Spices
● Red Wine and Tomato Juice
For the athlete, a drink that can be easily consumed prior to a workout is an optimal choice. However, the foods above can be incorporated into mealtimes to help boost the intake of flavonoids and maintain the anti-inflammatory action prior to each workout.
Just as one would use a prescription anti-inflammatory over the course of a few weeks until the desired effect is achieved, anti-inflammatory foods also build up in the system to achieve the desired effect.
Combinations of flavonoid foods can help increase the effectiveness of the anti-inflammatory action. The anthocyanins in tart cherries increase the body’s production of nitric oxide to help relax blood vessels and increase oxygen to muscles.
Tart cherries contain powerful anti-inflammatory compounds to help reduce pain and inflammation after exercise. When taken together, studies show promising revelations that they may help speed up muscle recovery and increase exercise performance.
1. Bescós R, Et al. 2016. “The Effect of Nitric-Oxide-Related Supplements on Human Performance. – PubMed – NCBI.” Accessed November 4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22260513
2. Donnie. 2015. “The Many Health Benefits of Anthocyanins | DonnieYance.com.”
DonnieYance.com. September 1. http://www.donnieyance.com/the-many-health-benefits-of-anthocyanins/
3. Loke, Wai Mun, Jonathan M. Hodgson, Julie M. Proudfoot, Allan J. McKinley, Ian B. Puddey, and Kevin D. Croft. 2008. “Pure Dietary Flavonoids Quercetin and (−)-Epicatechin Augment Nitric Oxide Products and Reduce Endothelin-1 Acutely in Healthy Men.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 88 (4). American Society for Nutrition: 1018–25.
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