Natural inducers of endogenous nitric oxide (NO) are becoming a source of fascination for elite athletes and weekend warriors alike. NO may well be one of the most important signalling molecules in the body; it is essential to the integrity of the cardiovascular system and is particularly essential to optimal performance and recovery. Through its vasodilatory action it helps deliver required oxygen and nutrients to the muscles during exercise.
A recent study published in Nutrition explored the use of amaranth (red spinach) as a possible inducer of NO and nitrate (NO3-) in the body due to its naturally occurring nitrite content. The researchers aimed to assess the impact of oral administration of amaranth on NO and NO3- in the blood plasma and saliva of healthy adults.
16 healthy male subjects were involved in the study, each were give 2g amaranth in a single dose and compared with placebo in a cross-over design. Measurements of NO and NO3- were taken in plasma and saliva for up to 24 hours.
Results of the study showed that NO levels in both saliva and blood plasma were significantly increased in the amaranth treatment group versus the placebo group. Blood plasma concentrations of NO3- were only slightly higher in the treatment arm, however levels were significantly increased in saliva.
Overall, researchers concluded that single doses of amaranth can deliver a measurable increase in NO and NO3- for up to 8 hours following administration. This study demonstrates that another food-based supplement shows promise to naturally support the production of NO and NO3- in the body offering an alternative to beetroot extracts.
- Subramanian D, Gupta S. Pharmacokinetic study of amaranth extract in healthy human subjects-A randomized trial. Nutrition 2016 Jan 21 [Abstract]