Indexed on: 19 Oct '13Published on: 19 Oct '13Published in: Nutrition research reviews
Evidence has accumulated in recent years that suggests that nitrate from the diet, particularly vegetables, is capable of producing bioactive NO in the vasculature, following bioconversion to nitrite by oral bacteria. The aim of the present review was to consider the current body of evidence for potential beneficial effects of dietary nitrate on blood pressure and endothelial function, with emphasis on evidence from acute and chronic human intervention studies. The studies to date suggest that dietary nitrate acutely lowers blood pressure in healthy humans. An inverse relationship was seen between dose of nitrate consumed and corresponding systolic blood pressure reduction, with doses of nitrate as low as 3 mmol of nitrate reducing systolic blood pressure by 3 mmHg. Moreover, the current studies provide some promising evidence on the beneficial effects of dietary nitrate on endothelial function. In vitro studies suggest a number of potential mechanisms by which dietary nitrate and its sequential reduction to NO may reduce blood pressure and improve endothelial function, such as: acting as a substrate for endothelial NO synthase; increasing vasodilation; inhibiting mitochondrial reactive oxygen species production and platelet aggregation. In conclusion, the evidence for beneficial effects of dietary nitrate on blood pressure and endothelial function is promising. Further long-term randomised controlled human intervention studies assessing the potential effects of dietary nitrate on blood pressure and endothelial function are needed, particularly in individuals with hypertension and at risk of CVD.