Nancy Dell: Foods that increase strength; Is ceramic cookware safe

Foods high in natural nitrates can increase nitric oxide


1. My mom has heart failure.  Can any foods increase her strength?
M.P. Springfield

Patients with heart failure – and athletes as well – can increase strength and endurance by eating some very specific vegetables. First let me explain that heart failure patients lose strength partly because of a decrease in nitric oxide.

Nitric oxide helps your cells produce energy more efficiently. Foods high in natural nitrates can increase nitric oxide. According to the American Heart Association, this can improve muscle strength 9 percent. Athletic performance can improve 15 percent. All vegetables and fruits have some nitrates that come from the nitrogen in the soil. Beet juice is highest and used in the studies.  But other high sources are:

  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Vegetable Juice
  • Spinach
  • Arugula
  • Celery

Have a little at each meal. You could have a cup of beet juice at breakfast, have a spinach salad with lunch, and snack on carrots and celery. Eat them roasted or raw. Boiling the vegetables causes the beneficial nitrates to leach out.

2. Is ceramic cookware safe?
Emily, Internet

Some ceramic cookware can be harmful. If it is glazed or decorated with lead paint, the lead can leach into the food causing lead poisoning. The FDA warns you avoid ceramicware that is damaged or worn, purchased at flea markets, Handmade, Brightly decorated in orange red or yellow, or antique.

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