Red spinach, a natural NO booster
Athletes have known for years how useful beetroot can be. Beetroot is a perfect natural source of nitrates. However, beetroot is not the only natural nitrate source available to athletes. Producers of sports supplements are exploring the possibilities of red spinach extracts. They are absolutely right, write Hofstra University researchers soon in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.
No, red spinach is not a variant of the spinach that you buy in the supermarket. The well-known spinach is also an interesting source of nitrate, but red spinach is a completely different plant.
Red spinach – Amaranthus tricolor in Latin – is also called Chinese spinach. Nowadays, the plant grows almost everywhere, but it originates from Central America. Red spinach is a vegetable in African and Asian cuisine.
In 2016, researchers from India demonstrated in a humane study that red spinach, just like regular spinach and beetroot, is an excellent source of nitrates. [Nutrition. 2016 Jul-Aug;32(7-8):748-53.]
Red spinach as an ergogenic aid
In the publication that Adam Gonzalez will soon publish in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 9 male and 8 female athletic students rode a time trial of 4 kilometers on 2 different occasions. On one occasion the test subjects took 1 gram of red spinach extract every day during the week preceding the time trial. On the day of the trial, the test subjects took another 1 gram of extract one hour before climbing their bikes.
The researchers used a supplement from NuVital Health, the sponsor of their research. [NuVital Health] A gram of red spinach extract provides 90 milligrams of nitrate, according to NuVital. Moreover, it contains no oxalate, a substance that is often present in extracts of regular spinach and beetroot.
On another occasion, the researchers repeated the procedure, but the subjects then gave a placebo.
Red spinach extract supplementation reduced the time required for the subjects to complete the time trial.