Amaranth extract goes head to head with beet as nitrate source

By Lynda Searby

- Last updated on GMT

Amaranthus extract is traditional used in Indian medicine and cooking.  (© iStock.com/Karandaev)
Amaranthus extract is traditional used in Indian medicine and cooking. (© iStock.com/Karandaev)
Indian firm Arjuna Natural is launching its Oxystorm branded amaranth extract to the European sports nutrition market at Vitafoods, on the back of peer-reviewed clinical research and growing demand for nitrate for athletes.

A number of studies have established that nitrate, a nitric oxide metabolite, is beneficial for endurance during exercise. However, this bioavailability study, published in the journal Nutrition​, was the first clinical trial to show that extract of amaranthus - one of the sources of nitrite in nature - can help athletes work out longer and harder.

The researchers found that a single (2g) dose of amaranth extract was able to increase nitrate (NO3) and nitrite (NO2) levels in the body for at least eight hours.

“The increase in NO3 and NO2 levels can help to improve the overall performance of people involved in vigorous physical activities or sports,”​ they concluded.

Beet it!

sports nutrition rowing essna iStock.com ivansmuk
'Benny Antony, joint managing director of Arjuna, said Oxystorm is a far more “potent” form of nitrate for sports nutrition applications.'(© iStock.com/ivansmuk)

Until now, sports nutrition manufacturers have typically incorporated beetroot powder and juice into formulations in order to support nitrate levels. These findings give this market a new, more potent form of nitrate to work with, according to botanical extracts manufacturer Arjuna, whose interest in amaranthus stems from its traditional use in Indian medicine and cooking. 

“Beetroot powder and beet juice have typically been used to support nitrate levels but they contain comparatively low levels of nitrate in a typical serving. Moreover, the nitrate amount can vary widely based on where and how the plants were harvested and processed,” ​said Benny Antony, joint managing director of Arjuna.

By comparison, he said that Oxystorm was a far more “potent”​ form of nitrate for sports nutrition applications.

“It’s standardised to 9-10% nitrate content, whereas most beet-based ingredients contain less than 2% nitrate,” ​he told NutraIngredients.

Arjuna attributes this to its patent-pending production process, which extracts 9,000mg per 100g of nitrate from the leaves of the amaranthus species.

Another advantage claimed by Oxystorm over its beet-based counterparts is that it doesn’t contain any reducing sugars and oxalates.

“Many beet-based products contain relatively high amounts of inherent reducing sugars and oxalates,”​ said Antony.

Oxystorm is said to be highly water soluble and have a neutral pH, enabling its use in a range of applications, from energy bars to sports drinks. It is already available on the US market and does not require Novel Foods approval.

More trials underway

sports cycling bike iStock.com  Razvan
With this bioavailability study published, two further trials looking into endurance are underway for Oxystorm. (© iStock.com/Razvan)

With this bioavailability study published, two further trials are underway for Oxystorm.

“We have completed a human endurance study in India, and phase one of a human endurance study in the US. This phase is in publication, with the second phase ongoing,”​ confirmed Antony.

He refused to be drawn into a discussion on whether this clinical research programme was leading up to a claim application under the NHCR (Nutrition and Healthy Claims Regulation) framework, simply saying: “We haven’t decided on health claims yet”​.

Source: Nutrition 

Epub ahead of print: doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2015.12.041

“Pharmacokinetic study of amaranth extract in healthy humans: A randomized trial.”

Authors: Subramanian D, Gupta S.

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