But what do you REALLY know about this molecule, aside from that it sounds similar to the stuff you use to pimp your ride. Time to get the facts straight and make sure you know your nitric sh*t. And, of course, I made you a top 10 list of nitric oxide foods so you can adjust your meals and pump up those NO levels!
What is nitric oxide?
Many people vaguely know what this stuff is, but when it really comes down to it they just don’t have a clue. So let’s have a closer look. What is nitric oxide exactly? Hint: it’s not laughing gas, and it won’t boost your car engine (just your body’s engine).
To start, let’s see how smart you really are bro. Three of these are just different names for nitric oxide, bet you can’t get which ones…
Think you’re smart? Comment your answer below the article!
|Nitrogen dioxide||Nitrous oxide||NO2|
Anyway, to get down to it, nitric oxide works in our bodies as a so-called signaling molecule, helping in many vital processes in your body. One of the main parts in which nitric oxide plays a starring role is in the cardiovascular system (your heart, blood, and blood vessels).
In fact, nitric oxide was awarded the title “Molecule of the Year” (yeah, that’s actually a thing) in 1992, and in 1998 a group of scientists even won the Nobel Prize for discovering the role of “nitric oxide as a signaling molecule in the cardiovascular system”. You gotta admit that’s impressive; you can’t say NO to that.
But all science talk aside, what are the benefits of nitric oxide (NO) for you, your body, and your performance?
Benefits of nitric oxide
Nitric oxide is at the heart of making sure your blood flows nice and smoothly because it promotes proper dilation of your arteries and veins. In other words, it expands them so enough blood can flow through. It also regulates your blood pressure to make sure it doesn’t get too high. The enormous influence of nitric oxide on your blood circulation is what makes it such an important molecule.
Healthy blood (and oxygen) circulation through your system contributes so much to your general health and performance. Increased blood and oxygen flow will give you more energy to increase performance and a more speedy recovery afterward: essential for your workouts. And this super molecule doesn’t stop there. Did you know it can enhance your brain function? And that’s not all it enhances… Nitric oxide helps treat erectile dysfunction in men as well!
You may have heard the joke “God gave man a brain and a penis, but only enough blood to run one at a time”? Well, with nitric oxide, get ready to run them both on full power!
Check also: Are there any nitric oxide side effects? >>
Natural ways to increase nitric oxide levels
Luckily there are many natural ways to increase nitric oxide levels. If you add the right stuff to your diet you will see your nitric oxide levels soar in NO time. In fact, even if you’re vegetarian or vegan you don’t have to worry: many of the foods rich in nitric oxide are 100% plant-based, so suitable for vegans and vegetarians. As long as you pick the right ingredients you can boost your NO levels using natural, plant-based power.
But before I get to the good stuff, we need to have a quick chat about the bad stuff as well… Are there foods that decrease nitric oxide levels? And why do NO levels decrease in the first place?
Short answer: nitric oxide levels naturally decrease as you get older. There are many other reasons that might affect them, but in the end, it mostly just comes down to age. The older we get, the less equipped our bodies are to produce nitric oxide.
That’s the main reason. But that’s not all. Here are a few more things for you to watch out for:
- A sedentary lifestyle (literally sitting on your ass in the office all day instead of being outside exercising)
- Certain medications like Prilosec or Nexium
- A diet low in nitrates and nitrites (because those increase nitric oxide production)
- Mouthwash (it kills off nitric oxide producing bacteria!)
But how about foods that decrease nitric oxide levels? Well, the simple truth is, there aren’t really any foods that decrease them! Of course, eating greasy fries all day is bad for your cardiovascular system, which in turn will be bad for your NO levels. But that doesn’t mean greasy fries lower NO levels; it’s a generally unhealthy diet which will eventually be bad for your NO levels as well.
And that holds the key to boosting your NO levels: eat a healthy diet filled with foods high in nitrate. Your body can convert this nitrate to nitric oxide, so adding nitrate-rich foods to your diet helps your NO levels. Let’s have a look at some of them!
10 nitric oxide foods
So I made a list of 10 (natural) foods with nitric oxide that can really help you out, plus a bonus one at the bottom. Try adding as many of these ingredients as possible to your regular diet and your nitric oxide levels will be sky high in just a matter of days.
I’ll tell you why these ten superfoods are so important, but here you already have the top 10 in a handy overview. Print it, stick it on your fridge, and let’s get your blood flowing again
1 – Beets
Adding this to your diet will get your blood pumping in a heart beet. Beets contain loads of nitrates, and like I mentioned already: nitrates can convert to – and thus increase – nitric oxide in your body. Why not add some beetroot juice to your power smoothie?
2 – Leafy greens
Green leafy vegetables are super healthy and should be part of your diet regardless of your NO levels. But when it comes to nitric oxide they definitely give a great boost. Just like beets, leafy greens (think of arugula, spinach, kale or cabbage) contain loads of nitrates. Time to whip up a healthy nutritious salad, filled with nitrates!
3 – Watermelon
We all know how refreshing watermelon can be during a hot summer’s day, but did you know it’s a great food to increase nitric oxide levels?
Watermelon contains lots of citrullines, which are amino acids that – just like nitrates – have the power to convert into something else. Amino acids convert to arginine, and arginine, in turn, converts to nitric oxide. So next time it’s hot you might want to consider getting some watermelon. It’s not just refreshing, it’s revitalizing.
4 – Soybeans
This one is especially handy for vegetarians and vegans because that soy milk you’re drinking is actually boosting your NO levels! Soybeans contain arginine, which converts to nitric oxide. So make sure you eat or drink enough soy-based products and your NO levels will soon be soaring from the soy!
5 – Dark chocolate
Who said you can’t indulge yourself while staying healthy? Dark chocolate contains loads of flavanols, which in turn can boost nitric oxide levels in your body. So why not add some dark chocolate to your protein shake?
6 – Nuts and seeds
Next on my list of nitric oxide foods are nuts and seeds. Just like some of the others, these treats are stuffed with arginine. Let’s go nuts!
7 – Red wine
Just imagine, Friday night sitting in a bar with some friends, munching on nuts and drinking some red wine. Who would’ve guessed that while doing so, you’re actually increasing nitric oxide levels in your body? Cheers!
8 – Garlic
Garlic is an essential ingredient in loads of delicious dishes (no pasta sauce is finished without it), but it’s not just tasty. Garlic can activate nitric oxide synthase, which is the enzyme that assists in converting L-arginine into nitric oxide. Trust me, it’s definitely worth it adding this to your diet!
9 – Lentils
Another source of arginine, another booster of nitric oxide. You can make a tasty curry or soup high in arginine, kicking your NO-lacking butt!
10 – Green herbs
No meal is finished without adding some nice fresh herbs, right? Luckily for you, green herbs are often a great source of nitric oxide. Why not add some fresh basil to that garlicky pasta sauce?
So there you have it folks: 10 nitric oxide foods to boost your NO levels! But, as promised, I’ve added an extra one to the list.
11 – Meat, poultry, and seafood
I wanted to give you a list of natural sources, all plant-based, to show you just how much fresh fruit and veg can do for your diet (and to make it all vegetarian/vegan-friendly).
But, I did leave out one massive source of nitric oxide: animal products. Meat, poultry, and seafood are all packed with nitric oxide promoting ingredients. For example, they’re all a source of CoQ10, which is an important nutrient to raise your nitric oxide levels.
You can appreciate that, next time you’re eating some nice fatty fish or a big juicy steak!
Conclusion? Change your diet!
It’s as simple as that. Just add a bit more of these superfoods to your diet and before you know it you’ll notice your NO levels are rising again. Nature contains loads of foods high in nitric oxide, so why not benefit from what nature has to offer? And the best part is: it will make for some damn tasty meals and shakes, I can tell you that!
Need an extra boost quickly? Have a look at this nitric oxide supplement >>
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