Metabolic Effects of Dietary Nitrate in Health and Disease

Cell Metab. 2018 Jul 3;28(1):9-22. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2018.06.007.


Nitric oxide (NO), generated from L-arginine and oxygen by NO synthases, is a pleiotropic signaling molecule involved in cardiovascular and metabolic regulation. More recently, an alternative pathway for the formation of this free radical has been explored. The inorganic anions nitrate (NO3-) and nitrite (NO2-), originating from dietary and endogenous sources, generate NO bioactivity in a process involving seemingly symbiotic oral bacteria and host enzymes in blood and tissues. The described cardio-metabolic effects of dietary nitrate from experimental and clinical studies include lowering of blood pressure, improved endothelial function, increased exercise performance, and reversal of metabolic syndrome, as well as antidiabetic effects. The mechanisms underlying the salutary metabolic effects of nitrate are being revealed and include interaction with mitochondrial respiration, activation of key metabolic regulatory pathways, and reduction of oxidative stress. Here we review the recent advances in the nitrate-nitrite-NO pathway, focusing on metabolic effects in health and disease.

Keywords: cardiovascular; diabetes mellitus; diet; fatty liver; metabolic syndrome; nitric oxide; nitrite; obesity; oxidative stress; steatosis; type 2 diabetes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cardiovascular System / metabolism*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / diet therapy
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism*
  • Diet
  • Humans
  • Metabolic Syndrome / diet therapy
  • Metabolic Syndrome / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Nitrates / metabolism*
  • Nitric Oxide / metabolism*
  • Nitrites / metabolism*
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Rats


  • Nitrates
  • Nitrites
  • Nitric Oxide