Nitric oxide is a molecule that your body produces naturally. It is a vital component to your health because it helps your blood vessels dilate. This helps promote proper blood flow, which in turn, may improve exercise performance, lower blood pressure and improve the function of the brain.
If you are seeking these benefits, one of the easiest and most effective ways to boost your nitric oxide levels is through your diet.
Beets: These powerful purple vegetables, known for their major heart-health benefits, are also packed with dietary nitrates, allowing the body to convert them to nitric acid. Studies show that drinking 3.4 ounces of beetroot juice notably increased the levels of nitric oxide in both men and women (1). Due to their dietary nitrates, beets have been shown to improve cognitive function, lower blood pressure and enhance athletic performance.
Garlic: Research has shown that aged garlic extract can temporarily increase the levels of nitric acid in the blood by as much as 40 percent within an hour of consumption (2). Garlic is able to increase the levels of nitric oxide by activating nitric oxide synthase. This enzyme helps convert nitric oxide from the amino acid L-arginine.
Dark Chocolate: Dark chocolate, especially in the form of raw cacao is loaded with flavanols that promote nitric oxide in the body. Research shows the flavanols in cacao help the body establish optimal levels of nitric oxide (3). This promotes heart health, improves blood flow and enhances brain function.
Citrus: Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons and limes are another excellent source of nitric oxide thanks to their vitamin C. Vitamin C has been shown to enhance the bioavailability of nitric oxide in the body as well as increasing the levels of nitric oxide synthase, which is an enzyme needed to produce nitric oxide. You can app your nitric oxide intake easily by adding the zest from a lemon or lime to your meal or squeezing it into your water.
Leafy Greens: Leafy greens have so many health benefits that we aren’t surprised to see them on this list as well. Spinach, arugula and cabbage, among other leafy greens, are packed with nitrates. These nitrates are then converted to nitric oxide in the body. Research indicates that regular consumption of leafy greens can help you maintain sufficient levels of nitric oxide in the blood as well as the tissues (4).
Pomegranate: Pomegranate is a powerhouse for antioxidants that can protect your cells from damage and preserve the nitric oxide in your body. Studies on both humans and animals have indicated that pomegranate can improve blood flow which is particularly beneficial in treating conditions like high blood pressure and erectile dysfunction (5).
Watermelon: Watermelon is filled with the wonderful amino acid L-citrulline, which transforms into nitric oxide.
One study found that men who drank 10 ounces of watermelon juice for two weeks had significant improvements in nitric oxide bioavailability (6). You can get your watermelon in by eating it fresh, adding it to salads or consuming it in the form of fresh-pressed juice.
Meat: Meat, seafood and poultry provide significant coenzyme Q10 to the body. This compound is believed to help preserve the levels of nitric oxide in the body. If you’re looking for the highest levels of Q10, try organ meats, fatty fish and muscle meats like pork, beef and chicken. Research shows that adding Q10 to your body is great for preserving nitric oxide in addition to helping athletic performance, promoting heart health and even preventing migraines (7).
Red Wine: You may already know that red wine contains a lot of powerful antioxidants. But, some studies also link red wine to an increase of nitric oxide in the body. One study found that treating cells with red wine increased the levels of nitric oxide synthase (8). That’s the enzyme that helps produce nitric oxide.
Nuts and Seeds: Nuts can boost your levels of nitric oxide because they are high in arginine, a type of amino acid involved in producing nitric oxide. One study that tested 2,771 people found they all showed a higher intake of foods rich in arginine was linked to higher levels of nitric oxide in the blood (9).
Try snacking on a handful of nuts and seeds or topping your salads with them.
Nitric oxide is a critical compound that helps our body do many things and is a very important part of health. You can easily add the above-mentioned foods into your diet, try new recipes with them or simply snack on them to boost your levels of nitric oxide naturally.
References & Disclaimers
✝✝This noted statement is based on independent research and is not necessarily the opinion of the author