Foods that Boost Nitric Oxide

Written by Dr. Jonathan Peterson, Updated on June 21st, 2024, Published on July 29th, 2023

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Foods that Boost Nitric Oxide

   Nitric oxide (NO)is a crucial molecule that enables blood vessels to dilate, which improves several critical functions in your body, like increasing blood flow, lowering blood pressure, and skyrocketing your energy levels, which leads to more stamina when working out.
Nitric oxide is a naturally occurring gas in your body that lowers cell inflammation and keeps blood vessels healthy and open for robust blood flow. Vasodilation — or blood flow — functions best when blood vessels aren’t restricted. Because of this relationship to blood flow, nitric oxide may help control blood pressure and boost cognition.

Nitric oxide is produced in the body by two pathways. One depends on the enzyme nitric oxide syntheses; the second relies on the precursors L-arginine and L-citrulline (a precursor for L-arginine.) Nitric oxide syntheses also help to convert L-arginine into nitric oxide.

L-arginine and L-citrulline are favorites of bodybuilders for their muscle-building abilities.

Supplements, prescription drugs, and powders elevate nitric oxide levels in your body. But, in the long run, it is always best, to begin with proper nutrition. The supplements are even more effective when the body is given foods that boost nitric oxide.

Let’s take a look at a few foods that are what the doctor ordered to set the table for the body to ramp up NO production:

• Beets. Beets are at the top of the list – with good reason. Beets are crammed with dietary nitrates that convert to nitric oxide. One study determined that in 38 adults, consuming a beetroot juice supplement uplifted nitric oxide levels by 21% in just 45 minutes! Another study found that drinking 3.4 ounces (100 ml) of beetroot juice ballooned nitric oxide levels in both men and women. This is significant since beets boost exercise capability, increase mental sharpness, and lower blood pressure.

• Dark Chocolate is loaded with flavanols — naturally occurring compounds with an extensive list of powerful health benefits. According to the Mayo Clinic, dark chocolate can reduce blood pressure, slash inflammation, protect the brain, and diminish the risk of cardiovascular disease.

• Watermelon. In addition to being aside from being a savory fruit, watermelon is loaded with L-citrulline, a precursor to L-arginine, which leads to nitric oxide synthesis. Recent studies have shown that L-citrulline supplementation boosted nitric oxide synthesis, lowered blood pressure, and increased blood flow. Another study found that drinking 10 ounces (300 ml) of watermelon juice for two weeks significantly improved nitric oxide bioavailability.

• Garlic. Garlic is well-known for its many health benefits, and recent research has concluded that boosting nitric oxide levels can be added to those benefits. Garlic activates nitric oxide synthesis, the enzyme that helps the conversion of nitric oxide from the amino acid L-arginine. Another study uncovered that aged garlic extract helped maximize the amount of nitric oxide the body can absorb.

• Red Wine. Red wine is responsible for the so-called “French paradox” (French folks have relatively low occurrences of cardiovascular disease while having a diet loaded with saturated fats. Previously, this was attributed to red wine containing Resveratrol, a polyphenol that is a naturally occurring, highly powerful antioxidant. However, researchers have found drinking red wine could also boost nitric oxide levels. Another finding is that specific compounds in red wine accelerate nitric oxide synthesis and increase the release of nitric oxide from the cells that line the blood vessels, thus causing blood pressure to drop and promoting heart health.

•  Leafy green vegetables like spinach, arugula, kale, and cabbage are packed with nitrates, which convert to nitric oxide in your body. Numerous studies have found that just one cup of nitrate-rich raw vegetables or equivalent juice consumed daily can cause a surge in vasodilation and boost cardiovascular health. For exercise, it was found that 400 mg of nitrate in a serving is a good amount for increased stamina.

• Meat, poultry, and seafood are rich sources of coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10 — an essential compound shown to preserve nitric oxide in the body

•  Nuts and seeds are brimming with arginine, which, as mentioned earlier, is an amino acid involved in producing nitric oxide. Some research found that consuming arginine from foods like nuts and seeds can help elevate nitric oxide levels in your body and deliver the benefits of reduced blood pressure, mental clarity, and increased energy.

• Pomegranate Pomegranate is loaded with potent antioxidants that protect your cells against damage and preserve nitric oxide.

• Citrus Fruits like oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit are all excellent sources of vitamin C. This crucial water-soluble vitamin plays a significant role in maintaining good health. Similarly to garlic, citrus fruits enable your body to benefit from the nitric oxide it can produce efficiently. Consuming citrus fruits boosts the amount of vitamin C in your body, improving your ability to absorb and react to nitric oxide. Research shows that it may also bump up levels of nitric oxide syntheses, the enzyme needed to produce nitric oxide.

As you can see, NO is a crucial compound involved in numerous aspects of health, including blood pressure regulation, exercise performance, and better cognitive function.

The good news is that adding these good-tasting foods to your plate is a simple and effective way to ratchet up your nitric oxide levels.

Consuming loads of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and healthy protein foods can optimize NO levels and experience the benefits of this “miracle molecule.”


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