6 Foods to Send Nitric Oxide Levels Soaring
How many molecules can say their discovery won a Nobel Prize? Mighty nitric oxide can claim this honor. It plays such an important role in cardiovascular health, it was at the heart of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
While the award recognized the role of nitric oxide as a signaling molecule for the cardiovascular system (1), it has been at the center of over 160,000 scientific articles showing its many remarkable health benefits (2).
Because nitric oxide (N.O.) is a vasodilator, it helps your blood vessels expand and relaxes your arteries. Nitric oxide also plays an essential role in:
- Healthy blood pressure
- Improved blood flow throughout the body
- Higher energy levels (thanks to better oxygen flow)
- Better athletic performance and recovery
- Healthy brain function (where it acts as a neurotransmitter)
So if you want to protect your heart, advance your athletic performance or have more natural energy, then you need to increase your nitric oxide levels. Especially since our nitric oxide production declines as we age.
The best way to boost your nitric oxide levels is through nitrate-rich plants and plant protein. You need both for optimal nitric oxide production. Here are some of the amazing foods that boost your N.O. levels naturally.
1. Leafy Greens
The path to heart health is paved with leafy greens. The number one food by weight for nitrates is arugula (480 mg per 100 grams). In fact, of the 10 most nitrate-rich foods on the planet, leafy greens hold six of those top spots.
What should you add to your salad or smoothie? Aside from arugula, spring greens (188 mg per 100 g) and butterleaf lettuce (200 mg per 100 g) give you the most heart-healthy nitrates.
Whichever way you choose to consume leafy greens, be sure to buy it organic. Otherwise it could contain harmful pesticides.
Getting beets in your diet is another great way to increase your nitric oxide levels. Regular beets come in after leafy greens for nitrate levels, and may not be everyone’s favorite for taste, but they can mix well in a salad.
Beet juice meanwhile has been getting a lot of attention among athletes and bodybuilders for its ability to spike nitric oxide levels. And beet juice does come in second after arugula for nitrate content (279 mg per 100 g).
If you go the juice route for beets just watch out for the sugar content and make sure there are no artificial additives.