Nitric oxide is one of the most important substances in the body.
It’s important to help improve blood flow, lower blood pressure, support your immune system, and to ensure that blood, oxygen, and nutrients are able to reach all of the different parts of our body (yes, even your penis guys).
It’s tremendously important for anyone who is hoping to maintain their overall health, improve their post-workout recovery, or enhance their sexual health.
In this article, I’ll discuss the best nitric oxide foods to help you learn how you can naturally boost the amount of this valuable substance in your body.
- Health benefits of Nitric Oxide
- The best ways to naturally increase levels of Nitric Oxide
- The best foods high in nitric oxide
- Are there any foods that decrease Nitric Oxide levels?
Before we dive in and learn about foods rich in nitric oxide, you probably want to know why improving your NO levels even matters in the first place.
Nitric oxide is a vital molecule that your body produces. Your body uses it in a number of different bodily processes, one of the most important being the way that it helps the blood vessels dilate.
Simply put this means that Nitric Oxide (NO) opens up your blood vessels improving blood flow and reducing blood pressure.
So what’s so great about dilating your blood vessels anyway? Well, quite a lot!
- Work out harder, for longer
Several studies have shown that you may be able to exercise better, with increased NO levels.
An increase in Nitric Oxide and more dilated blood vessels means more blood and oxygen get to your muscle tissues, making it easier for them to do their job.
The result: Increased endurance and physical performance.
And it’s not just proven in animal studies or anything – it’s been proven with athletes. Everyone from cyclists to kayakers has shown improvements in performance, time and time again.
- Prevent muscle soreness
I’m sure most of us have been there, you’ve worked hard at the gym and the next day you can barely move.
This soreness is called delayed-onset muscle soreness and it’s natural, but possibly the worst, part of working out.
Improving your nitric oxide levels has been shown to help reduce the intensity of muscle soreness.
Whilst study results have varied its thought that by opening up your blood vessels it’s easier for your body to deliver nutrients vital to recovery, whilst also removing the waste products of physical activity that give you those aches and pains such as lactate and ammonia.
- Lower your blood pressure
Go for your annual checkup and get fed up with listening to your doctor remind you that you have high blood pressure?
Well improving nitric oxide levels will lower blood pressure.
This is a bit of a no-brainer: high blood pressure is caused in part by the narrowing of blood vessels, so opening up these blood vessels will reduce your blood pressure.
Healthy blood pressure reduces your risk of future health problems including heart attacks, stroke, and kidney disease. Heart health matters guys!
- It might just make you a little bit smarter
Improving blood flow can help your brain too and improve your mental performance. By increasing blood flow to your brain, you provide more oxygen and energy to fuel your brain.
This can help improve your concentration, prevent forgetfulness and potentially even help improve dementia symptoms.
Your brain uses over 25% of the oxygen your body takes in, improving blood flow with NO can have some quite remarkable benefits.
- It makes it easier to get an erection
Improving your sex life. Some guys aren’t so lucky and don’t get an erection merely whenever there’s a stiff breeze.
Men who struggle with getting an erection are struggling because of blood flow. They simply aren’t getting enough blood into their penis.
There have been several studies that show supplementation with L-citrulline boosts your own natural nitric oxide production.
This, in turn, improves blood flow and makes it easier to get an erection. Whilst it’s not as effective as popping a Viagra its a much more natural way to improve your sex life.
Boosting your NO levels relaxes muscles in the penis allowing chambers in the penis to fill with blood for super stiff erections.
- Nitric oxide may even help people manage type 2 diabetes
Studies have shown that people with diabetes often have a difficult time producing their own nitric oxide, which leads to poor blood vessel health.
This causes further problems associated with diabetes, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and kidney problems.
At this point, there isn’t enough research to be conclusive as research has either been animal studies or relatively small groups of diabetes patients.
I recommend if you’re concerned about diabetes you seek the advice of a healthcare professional.
So you get it now. Improving blood flow has some huge health benefits. Boosting the nitric oxide levels in the body can help achieve that.
There are a fair few more ways that you can increase nitric oxide levels.
One of the best things that you can do is increase the number of antioxidants that you consume.
Antioxidants help to disarm free radicals, or rogue electrons, which can damage the life of nitric oxide. By getting rid of free radicals, you can increase the amount of nitric oxide in your body.
L-arginine, an important amino acid that isn’t actually essential to get in your diet.
Healthy adults can make enough of this amino acid to keep themselves in shape, however, some people are unable to make enough of it.
L-arginine is directly involved in the production of nitric oxide so it’s always wise to get plenty of it in your system.
L-citrulline is another amino acid. Once again your body should be able to make all of the L-citrulline that it needs, as long as you have a healthy balanced diet.
Your body also creates L-citrulline when it converts L-arginine into nitric oxide.
- Avoid mouthwash
Something you might not expect is that you should avoid mouthwash.
Sure no one wants to have bad breath – but if your mouthwash is full of alcohol and other toxic compounds it can really hurt nitric oxide production.
Mouthwash actually kills off the bacteria in your body that are necessary for the production of nitric oxide.
Consider other alternatives when you want to freshen up your breath, you can always use something more natural like ginger or use a more natural alcohol-free mouthwash.
Yeah nitric oxide can help improve the results of exercise but don’t forget the opposite is also true – increasing exercise levels improves the amount of nitric oxide that your body produces.
To get sciency for a second, exercise increases the functioning of the endothelium, the walls of our arteries to us common folk, which are involved in the production of nitric oxide.
- Eat healthily
Finally the no brainer – eat healthily. Probably the easiest, safest, and most reliable thing to do would be to eat a lot of foods that help increase nitric oxide.
Before supplementing or taking extreme amounts of antioxidants, make sure you’re eating a healthy diet rich in foods with nitric oxide, such as leafy greens and citrus fruits.
Let’s take a look at some more depth at some foods to introduce to your diet to improve your levels of nitric oxide.
We’ve mentioned that diet is probably the best way to increase levels of nitric oxide in the body – and certainly the safest. Here are ten of the most important foods rich in nitric oxide
1 – Beets
Beets are often regarded as one of the best nitric oxide foods. They are chock-full of dietary nitrates, which your body can use directly to create nitric oxide.
Beet juice has been studied specifically for this, and the results have been incredibly impressive: less than an hour after drinking beet juice, subjects reported a 21% increase in their levels of NO.
2 – Garlic
Another one of the most popular and effective foods for boosting NO is garlic. It does this by helping to activate a certain enzyme that’s responsible for helping the body convert L-arginine into NO.
3 – Meat
While there have been tons of studies proving that red meat is terrible for your health, there’s no doubt that it can help to boost NO.
This is because meat and chicken contain a lot of coenzymeQ10, which is known to help boost nitric oxide levels.
4 – Cacao
The ingredient that’s known for creating one of the world’s most popular snacks, chocolate, is also tremendously beneficial for our health.
One thing that it’s great for is helping to bring about an optimal level of nitric oxide in the human body.
Suggested read: The benefits of dark chocolate
5 – Leafy Greens
Get your greens! Not only are they rich in nutrients, but they can also help you create more nitric oxide. Foods like spinach, kale, and cabbage leaves are great for boosting nitric oxide.
6 – Citrus fruits
Things like oranges and grapefruits are fantastic sources of vitamin C, a potent antioxidant vitamin that can be useful for helping to boost the absorption of nitric oxide in the human body.
As an antioxidant, vitamin C will also help get rid of the free radicals that can get in the way of nitric oxide.
7 – Pomegranates
Pomegranates are another fantastic food that is filled with delicious antioxidants. These antioxidants can be useful for helping to prevent nitric oxide from getting damaged.
8 – Nuts
Nuts and seeds are fantastic sources of protein and other nutrients, and they’re also a great source of arginine. As we’ve discussed, arginine is highly important in the synthesis of nitric oxide.
9 – Watermelon
is currently known to be one of the most potent sources of L-citrulline, one of the amino acids that are known to help aid in the synthesis of nitric oxide in the human body.
10 – Red wine
While it might not be wise to slam a bottle of wine with the intention of improving your health, there’s no doubt that having a glass in the evening can help to boost the amount of nitric oxide in your body.
Most of the studies have been done in test tubes, but there’s reason to believe that this should work in your body too.
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Suggested read: The effect of alcohol on your T-levels
Are There Any Foods That Decrease Nitric Oxide levels?
Fortunately, there aren’t a whole lot of foods that lower nitric oxide levels.
High cholesterol can reduce nitric oxide, however, so it’s probably a good idea to avoid foods that can increase levels of bad (HDL) cholesterol.
This means that you should avoid trans-fats or deep-fried foods.
Aside from that, as long as you eat a diet that provides you with nitric-oxide boosting foods, you should have no trouble producing NO and see all the benefits it brings.