What is Nitric Oxide?Understanding the importance of nitric oxide foods and what they can do for your health first begins with an understanding of nitric oxide. Since its discovery lead to a Nobel Prize in 1998, nitric oxide has paved its way as a staple in health regimens throughout the world. Nitric oxide (NO) is a gas in the body that acts as a signaling molecule in the cardiovascular system.19
Nitric oxide comes from L-Arginine, which is an amino acid that helps build protein in the body. While nitric oxide is most known to support heart health, it actually supports a variety of aspects of physiological health. Studies reveal that some of the best foods for supporting nitric oxide levels in the body are foods that contain high levels of L-arginine, as well as nitrate-rich foods.
What Can Nitric Oxide Do For Your Health?This “miracle molecule” supports a variety of aspects of health: Supports Better Blood Flow: NO increases blood flow in the body through vasodilatation, which is the expansion of blood vessels.
Helps to reduce oxidative stress
Supports a Healthy Blood Pressure
Helps to reduce inflammation
Supports immune function
Help those who suffer from erectile dysfunction
Support energy levels
Enhances exercise performance.3
Believe it or not, the primary cause of death in the United States is cardiovascular disease. In addition, every 40 seconds in the United States somebody has a heart attack.7 Now more than ever, it is crucial to be aware of the daily habits that support or hinder your heart health.
Best Foods to Deliver Your Body with a Nitric Oxide Boost
1. BeetsBeetroot and beetroot juice are nitrate-rich, assisting in nitric oxide availability in the body.9 Studies demonstrate that because of this, beetroot can support a healthy blood pressure and a reduction in inflammation. In addition to this, beetroot is known for boosting exercise and athletic performance. Beetroot is also loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties!4
2. SpinachAs a general rule of thumb, dark leafy greens can a great source of nitric oxide. Spinach is a dietary source high in nitrate. Spinach has been proven to support vascular health by supporting a healthy blood pressure & decrease in arterial stiffness. You can add more spinach by adding it to a healthy smoothie, or sautéing it in garlic and olive oil!8
3. KaleKale is another dark leafy green proven to assist the formation of nitric oxide in the body.11 The amount of nitrate in not only Kale, but other vegetables like spinach and lettuce, is proven to be much higher when grown during the Autumn in comparison to Spring.2 A great way to integrate kale into your diet is by adding lemon juice, garlic, olive oil and almonds to Kale in order to make a healthy salad!
4. LettuceLettuces such as romaine, and even iceberg contain higher amounts of nitrate than most vegetables. This may be surprising as iceberg lettuce is known for having less nutrients due to a high water content.9
5. Coconut WaterCoconut water is rich in L-arginine, as well as antioxidants. Studies have determined that coconut water can support not only the heart, but also the kidneys as well!12
6. CeleryCelery is considered a high-nitrate vegetable which also contains antioxidants. Research shows that celery can provide support for not only the heart by supporting a healthy blood pressure. It may also been support for jaundice and the liver!14
7. WatermelonIt may come as a surprise since its so tasty, but watermelon can be a great food to boost nitric oxide levels. Watermelon contains high levels of L-Citrulline. L-citrulline is an amino acid that can be metabolized to l-arginine, and in turn, nitric oxide. Who knew that such a tasty summer food could actually be supportive of heart health!5
8. MeatIn regards to nutrition, meat is a great source of protein. Red meat, poultry and fish support nitric oxide levels through L-Arginine.
9. ApplesPolyphenols are naturally occurring compounds in certain foods and plants. They help protect the body against oxidative stress and their role as antioxidants are being further explored.17 Apples are able create higher nitric oxide levels in the body as a result of the specific polyphenol group they harbor.18 So, integrating apples into your diet can actually be supportive of heart health!
10. GarlicMany cultures use garlic in a variety of cuisines for robust flavor. But garlic has actually been known to support health in a variety of ways throughout history. Garlic has been known to support hypertension, harbor anti-microbial effects, and even support normal blood glucose concentrations.1 More commonly, garlic is recognized for its ability to support heart health. Garlic increases the production of nitric oxide levels within cells in the body. It does this by activating an enzyme called nitric oxide synthase. This enzyme helps the body create nitric oxide from L-arginine.6
11. PomegranateSimilar to garlic, pomegranates are able to support nitric oxide levels in the body by activating nitric oxide synthase. Pomegranates also contain high levels of polyphenols which are also responsible for creating more nitric oxide.20
12. NutsNuts are a rich source of L-Arginine, which supports the creation of nitric oxide. Peanuts and walnuts in particular tend to be the best sources of L-Arginine. Replace processed foods with nuts for snacks!15
Some other great NO producers:Bok Choy
Other Ways to Enhance NO Production in the bodySome other ways to increase nitric oxide levels in the body are:
• Exercising: Individuals exercising in a study showed a higher NO content when exhaling increases.16
• L-Arginine Supplements: Adding L-Arginine supplements to your diet not only increases nitric oxide levels in the body, but can also provide an energy boost for a workout. Cardio Defender contains 5,200mg of L-Arginine per serving!
• L-Citrulline Supplements: L-Citrulline acts as a precursor for creating L-Arginine. So, these supplements can be helpful for nitric oxide production as well.13
• Increase antioxidant intake: Studies show that different antioxidants can help active nitric oxide synthase, the enzyme that helps initiate NO production.10
Spinach & Kale Smoothie Recipe for a Powerful Nitric Oxide Boost
1 cup of raw spinach
1 cup of raw kale
½ cup of mangos
½ cup of pineapples
1 cup of sugar free coconut milk
Blend all ingredients together & serve!
Mixed Berry Smoothie Recipe to Boost Nitric Oxide Levels
1 ½ cup of strawberries
1 ½ cup of raspberries
½ cup of greek yogurt
1 scoop of Cardio Defender
1 cup of almond milk
Simply blend and serve.