If you need a performance booster that works naturally with no side effects, will boost your sex drive and improve your heart health, nitric oxide may be the solution.
Nitric oxide is a gaseous, odorless compound with the chemical formula NO.
It occurs naturally in the human body where it functions as a cell signaling molecule that primarily causes vasodilation. (1)
That basically means that NO has the ability to expand your blood vessels and increase blood flow, muscle oxidation, heart health, libido, etc.
In a nutshell, nitric oxide is GOOD for you.
It will boost not only your performance but speed up your recovery time and decrease drastically the soreness you would normally experience after a workout.
Nitric Oxide Foods: Top 25+ Foods That Boost NO Production Naturally
- Beetroot/ Beets:
Beetroots/ beets are one of the foods richest in nitrates. Therefore, beets are one of the best plants for increasing nitric oxide levels.
Of all plants, beets are probably the highest in nitrates and they also have the ability to lower estrogen levels.
There are plenty of studies that confirm this food as a vasodilator which reduces blood pressure. Furthermore, beets are an excellent source of anti-oxidants and contain betalains, which are anti-inflammatory.
Beet juice has 279 milligrams of nitrates per 100 grams.
Watermelon is loaded with the amino acid, L-citrulline, which gets converted into L-arginine and ultimately nitric oxide.
Though many people reach for L-arginine supplements, the body does not absorb it as well as L-citrulline.
The organic compound citrulline is an α-amino acid.
Its name is derived from citrullus, the Latin word for watermelon, from which it was first isolated in 1914 by two scientists. Its discovery was later confirmed in 1930.
Researchers have found that eating both the flesh and rind of watermelon will increase concentrations of arginine, improve blood flow and rid your body of sugar, fat and dimethylarginines. (2)
Pomegranates contain vitamins A and C.
The antioxidant properties of these vitamins are particularly helpful in preventing the breakdown of nitric oxide and prolonging its activities and lifespan.
Also, pomegranate juice enhances the effects of nitric oxide synthesis in the endothelial cells that line the coronary arteries
Furthermore, pomegranate juice increased the levels in all blood vessels, particularly in blood vessels with the most plaque buildup and can reduce plaque by up to 30% while boosting testosterone by about 22%.
- Whole Grains:
Several studies have shown that people who eat at least six servings of whole grains per week on the average have been able to slow down the progression of atherosclerosis (the narrowing of blood vessels due to buildup of plaque) and lessen the speed of stenosis (the narrowing of the diameter of the arterial passage).
In addition to these, whole grains have been proven to improve this important element over time and contain more minerals and antioxidants than processed (white) grains.
Green leafy vegetables are great sources of nitric oxide.
Spinach in particular has an abundance of nitrates that are easily available for your body to use on consumption.
However, different breeds of spinach have different quantities of nitrates. Nitrate quantities can range from 23.9 – 387.2 mg per 100 grams.
Oranges and real orange juice contain huge amounts of vitamin C which has the ability to protect nitric oxide from free radicals.
Ideally, while trying to increase nitric oxide levels, you should also consume as many antioxidants as possible.
The antioxidants preserve the NO2 molecules by getting rid of problematic free radicals.
- Raw cocoa:
Cocoa contain important amounts of flavan-3-ols or flavanols, a subfamily of flavonoids.
Most studies done on cocoa (chocolate) consumption was associated with a decrease in BP and cardiovascular mortality for the people studied.
- Dark chocolate:
Thankfully, the flavonoids in cocoa are not destroyed when it is processed into chocolate. Therefore, consumption of dark chocolate also improves nitric oxide levels.
In addition to this, cocoa can heal the endothelium by increasing the number of cells that repair it. If possible, try as much as possible to use raw unprocessed cocoa as processed cocoa may have lost some of its natural properties.
Walnuts have high amounts of the amino acid L-arginine. This amino acid is the precursor compound to the production of nitric oxide in our bodies.
In the same vein, walnuts have large quantities of vit-E that provide amazing health benefits to clogged arteries and hormonal health.
Garlic contains approximately 20 milligrams of nitrates per 100 grams of garlic. This is a really low number.
However, garlic is able to speed up the pathways that produce nitric oxide and aid the optimization of the nitric oxide synthase (NOS) pathway.
Garlic has been shown to reduce both systolic and diastolic blood pressure by up to eight points; even better than most blood pressure medications.
A study conducted in the year 2000 concluded that regularly eating cranberries can significantly improve your oxide levels.
Cranberries taste delicious and are responsible for several other health benefits so it’s a win-win.
- Black tea:
Although black tea contains caffeine which works as a vasoconstrictor, there have been some studies that show that black tea is still able to improve blood flow and reduce muscular stiffness.
Most nuts such as pistachios, almonds, etc. contain l-arginine which is the precursor molecule of nitric oxide. Nuts therefore are good for heart health and are able to naturally enhance NO levels.
Honey contains a large quantity of nitrates and enzymes. It has been proven to have vasodilator properties in some animal studies.
- Mustard Greens:
This vegetable may have anything between 50 and 100 milligrams of nitrates per 100 grams. They also contain numerous vitamins.
This amazing vegetable is a great source of coenzyme Q1 which boosts nitric oxide levels.
Also, kale has antioxidant properties that preserve the nitric oxide molecules. It has been proven to be beneficial to sexual health and healing.
Salmon is a great source of coenzyme Q10, a compound which is responsible for boosting nitric oxide levels.
Onions are great for your testosterone levels, as they have been shown to increase nitric oxide production several times.
They are a little short on nitrates as they contain only about 20 milligrams per 100 grams.
They are also a very good source of vitamin C, which as explained above protects your nitric oxide molecule from free radicals.
Furthermore, onions also contain a compound called quercetin. “Quercetin” is well known for its ability to boost nitric oxide levels.
When talking about foods that boost nitric oxide levels, arugula is at the top of the list. Arugula does not particularly contain a lot of nutrients.
However, it has 380 milligrams of nitrates per 100 grams and is the most nitrate dense vegetable known.
This little used vegetable can hold up to 250 milligrams of nitrates per 100 gram.
Greens are good for you. Lettuce typically contains from 100 to 200 milligrams of nitrates per hundred grams.
Furthermore, it is a good source of vitamin A and vitamin C.
Tofu has been found to contain isoflavones.
Isoflavones have been found to be quite similar to estrogen. When King’s College London did a study on the impact of soy isoflavones in postmenopausal woman, they found an increase in nitric oxide production.
Shrimps and other seafood are one of the best sources of dietary L-Arginine. As stated above L-Arginine is an amino acid and the precursor molecule of nitric oxide.
Soy also contains isoflavones that boost increase in nitric oxide production.
A lot of processed meat contains nitrates.
However, these foods do not ordinarily have so much nitrates.
In the process of making the meat more appealing to the consumer, most producers of meat add nitrites to improve the taste and longevity of the produce.
It is better to consume foods with natural deposits of nitrates than processed foods.
Legumes have noodles on their roots and have nitrogen-fixing bacteria in their roots.
Legumes therefore have good quantities of nitrates as they have been adapted for nitrogen fixing naturally.
- Beet Greens:
Beet greens rank really well as nitrate rich foods. Beet greens contain as much as 177 milligrams per 100 grams of vegetable.
In addition to this, they can provide you with 220% of recommended daily vitamin A, calcium and some fiber.
Rhubarb is chock full of vitamin C, fiber and calcium. It also contains about 247 milligrams of nitates per 100 grams.
- Spring greens:
Spring greens are also known as mesclun mix. Spring greens have a really good amount of nitrates; 183 milligrams per 100 grams.
Also, they provide you with a host of other benefits including Vitamin A, calcium and some iron.
The nitrate content of cabbage is in a very wide range. Nitrates can range from as little as 62 to as much as 300 milligrams per 100 grams.
Parsley can have as little as 100 milligrams or as much as 250 milligrams per 100grams. The nitrate production capacity is also dependent on their growth conditions.
- Bok Choy:
This vegetable can have anywhere between 110 and 310 milligrams of nitrates. Bok choy also contains vitamin A and C.
Cauliflower may have nitrates ranging from as little as 100 milligrams to as much as 250 milligrams per 100 grams.
In addition to this, cauliflower also has great amounts of vitamin A which can make up to 70% of the recommended daily diet.
Also, cauliflower has phytochemicals that block oestrogen production and therefore improves virility in men
Broccoli has very little nitrate content just between 20 and 50 mg per 100 grams.
However, broccoli is a much stronger estrogen blocker than even cauliflower.
Celery is a very good source of nitrates. It may have up to 250 milligrams of nitrate per 100 grams.
The catch however is that the nutritional content of celery varies greatly depending on the soil it is grown in and the types of fertilizer used.
Therefore, you can never be sure how much nitrate you are getting it from eating it……..
Other foods that boost nitric oxide levels include cayenne peppers, organ meats, mangoes, peanut butter, etc.
Benefits of Nitric Oxide
You can gain several benefits from improving nitric oxide levels. These benefits cut across several systems of your body health, fitness and performance.
- Weight Management
Increased breakdown of glucose
Increased glucose rates of appearance
Glucose rates of disappearance are also increased
Increased glucose clearance rate
Increased blood flow leads to consumption of more energy
- Heart Health and Vascularity
Increase in vascular network
Vasodilation reduces stress on the heart
Improved blood flow to the body
Reduces blood clotting
Improves symptoms of angina, heart disease
Improves symptoms of artery disease
- Increased Libido
Improves blood flow to penile tissue
Helps produce and sustain erection
- Increased Muscle Mass
Improved flow of blood containing nutrients and oxygen to muscles
Increases ability to carry out workouts
- Stronger Muscles
Improved flow of blood containing nutrients and oxygen to muscles
Strengthens muscles and bones
- Improved Immunity
Aids in lysis of bacteria and germs
Improved blood flow aids in platelet aggregation and reaching targeted cells.
- Performance, Fitness & Endurance
Improved blood flow strengthens the muscles
Increased energy output produces improved performance and ability to do higher protocols and repetitions.
So, How Does Your Body Get Nitric Oxide?
Nitric oxide is synthesized in the human body by Nitric Oxide Synthases (NOS). NOS have three types which perform different functions.
Human beings have the ability to produce the nitric oxide they need by several mechanisms:
- From the amino acids L-arginine and L-citrulline via the nitric oxide synthase pathway.
- From inorganic nitrates in food and supplements.
Contrary to their names, many nitric oxide foods do not contain any actual stuff.
In fact, the central ingredient in all these foods is the amino acid Arginine (or L-arginine), and more recently Citrulline malate, a more efficient source of Arginine.
Side Effects of Nitric Oxide Excess
As it is with any other compound, too much of nitric oxide can be bad for you.
However, as long as you improve your nitric oxide levels with food alone, it is very unlikely that there will be an excess of nitric oxide in your body.
Excesses are more likely to occur when using supplements and medication especially if the dosage is exceeded.
Symptoms of an excess of nitric oxide include;
- Blood Pressure Changes
When nitric oxide affects blood vessels, a decrease in blood pressure is a potential side effect.
Symptoms associated with low blood pressure include headache, dizziness, light-headedness, nausea, vomiting and loss of balance.
These symptoms may be worse when you are standing from a sitting position or when urinating. Discontinue use and consult your doctor if you are experiencing these symptoms.
- Light headedness:
As a result of the ability of nitric oxide to dilate your blood vessels, an excess of nitric oxide can cause you to feel lightheaded and faint.
This usually results from a marked decrease in blood pressure.
- Increased Bleeding
NO-2 supplements may increase the risk of bleeding because of their ability to relax blood vessels.
Therefore, you should ask your doctor about using nitric oxide supplements if you have a bleeding disorder or you are on blood-thinning medications such as warfarin.