Borsch Is Dynamite!

“Let food be your medicine.” Are beets good for your heart? The answer is yes and NO.

Good for the heart & circulatory system. The herbalism Doctrine of Signatures scores confidence points with beetroot.

Blood color, heart shape, ascending vessel/stems:

Nitroglycerin, beet soup, Viagra, sports, Popeye, spinach… the common denominator is NO, nitric oxide.

Beet soup combats erectile dysfunction?

My friend and neighbor, fellow dog musher Jim Stephens, had a good life until he and his logging partner won a tree cutting contract with the USDA Forest Service. One day as a result of miscommunication his partner Ted cut a tree down too close to where Jim was working and a branch bounced so to hit him in the back, tossing him a long distance through the air. After that he suffered back pain, took pain killing drugs with whiskey, smoked cigarettes; followed by heart disease, bypass surgery, then a heart transplant. In the early stages of this progression he was taking nitroglycerin for chest pain, called angina.

The party continued in Margueritaville across the road. Roasted bear meat, smoked suckers (a kind of fish) and lots of beer. Some enthusiasts shooting clay pigeons off the back porch and their yelling made as much noise as the shotgun. It was too loud. Jim and I were both walking back up the hill to his house. Bear meat makes you fart. Suckers are full of y-shaped bones, their revenge for getting hooked by fishermen although we had netted these.

Jim was puffing a bit and said he felt chest pain despite taking a nitro pill. Maybe his pills were stale. Maybe I would be a good friend and take one myself to verify if the medication worked. How would that affect me, I asked. Nothing serious, I would feel flushed because nitro dilates your blood vessels. I swallowed one pill and did not feel any immediate. I stopped to talk to someone else while Jim continued to his house. By the time I got there I felt as if my head had been inflated like a basketball with an air pump. Jim was not around for news that his nitroglycerin was still potent. He had already convinced his wife to take him to the hospital. Either way he was gone but if he had waited I would want an antidote to the pill he conned me into taking for him. I sat down until the headache dissipated. (Was it the combined beer, hops and nitro that caused OD?)

Borsch, borscht, barsch, борщ, is eastern European type of soup. I have been told that the word generally means soup. In Poland I had white borsch that was made with fermented grains similar to kvass as a base. In the USA because of immigration by Ashkenazi Jews from eastern Europe, borscht is understood to mean beetroot soup with cabbage and meat, usually topped with sour cream. (I mentioned before the Borscht Belt aka Jewish Alps in upstate New York, a resort area popular with NYC area Jewish vacationers.) It is good soup for cold weather with the effect of warming you up, sometimes you could feel overheated and need to go outside after a bowl to avoid sweating.

Today I stumbled across the explanation for the similar effects of these bioactive substances.

Having refrained from making puns about beats and beets or NO and no, avoiding the impractical and fatuous confusion about nitrate, nitrite and nitric oxide, I need only tell you, *hypocrite lecteur-mon semblable-mon frere, that nitroglycerin, TNT/trinitrotoluene, ammonium nitrate fertilizer, even nitrocellulose that was used in the early years for movie film, are explosive because of the powerful oxidizer nitrate. The agent or mediator in the body of the desirable effects is endogenous nitric oxide, NO, a vasoactive antioxidant and neurochemical.

*Hypocrite reader, my double, my brother, Baudelaire’s term for what now might be called co-conspirator. Another modern poetic translation for semblable would be avatar.

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/beets-and-beetroots

Some people are sensitive to biogenic amines caused by bacterial and yeast fermentation (wine, cheese, vegemite) or similar reactions among amino acids and NO compounds. If you get headaches from such things be forewarned.

P.S. I had a bag of powdered beet root that I mixed with lime juice and tomato salsa to drink for the present occasion as a test and so far nothing remarkable has happened. I suspect that sour cream and vinegar or other SCFA (short chain fatty acids) also play a part in the borsch exothermic mix. If you included kielbasa in your beet soup that’s got nitrates too.

P.P.S. Read the link for details about Viagra, sexual performance enhancing, erectile dysfunction etc.

More links:

http://nutsci.org/2009/10/23/how-to-get-athletes-to-eat-their-vegetables-nitrate-and-performance-part-1/

http://jap.physiology.org/content/107/5/1678.full

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