The Ultimate Guide To Nitrates And Nitric Oxide Foods

Nitric Oxide Summary:

  • Nitric oxide plays many roles in the body as it relates to health and performance.
  • Benefits include reduced blood pressure, improved blood oxygenation, improved recovery, and decreased inflammation.
  • Foods high in nitric oxide are beets, leafy green vegetables, dark chocolate, and a variety of other fruits and vegetables.
  • Supplements that increase nitric oxide are citrulline, arginine, omega fatty acids, b-vitamins, and n acetyl cysteine.
  • Dosage is 500mg daily through food or supplements.
  • My pick for the best nitric oxide boosting supplement is Snap Supplements Organic Beet Root Powder.

Nitric oxide is a gas that the body produces naturally, and it plays an important role in many of our bodily functions. Nitric oxide can help with blood pressure, heart function, mood swings, respiratory health and more!

The best way to get nitrates into your diet is by eating high nitrate foods like beets or spinach or in supplemental form.

This blog post will different foods and supplements that are rich in nitrates and how they can improve your life through increased nitric oxide levels.

What Are Dietary Nitrates?

high nitrate foods

Dietary nitrates are found in a variety of plant-based foods. They are converted into nitric oxide once they enter the bloodstream, where it provides multiple benefits for your body.

Nitric Oxide Food Sources

Beets and spinach are high in dietary nitrates and can be eaten raw or cooked to reap their health benefits. Other nitrate rich vegetables include celery, cabbage, green beans, collard greens cucumbers and lettuce.

Nitrates also come from some meats like bacon or sausage which contain sodium nitrate as well as processed luncheon meat that contains no more than 250 mg/serving per day (according to US Department of Agriculture).

Fruits such as watermelon have very low levels of dietary nitrates but may still provide other benefits.

Nitric Oxide And Blood Flow

Nitric oxide not only benefits your heart.

It also helps increase blood flow to the brain, which is important in maximizing a person's thinking and memory abilities by delivering oxygen-rich blood cells throughout the body.

Nitrates can help make nitrous oxide that relaxes arteries and veins as well as improve circulation.

This increases vitality and improves overall health related to cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol levels or poor circulation like cold hands or feet (Raynaud's Syndrome).

Dietary nitrate intake may also reduce insulin resistance for people with type II diabetes, helping them keep their glucose levels under control while reducing risk factors associated with developing complications of diabetes such as kidney damage from hypertension or coronary artery disease from atherosclerosis.

Nitric Oxide Health And Performance Benefits

nitric oxide for athletes

Hundreds of thousand of scientific articles have been published about the benefits of nitric oxide.

This research had demonstrated a multitude of health benefits including:

  1. Improves athletic performance
  2. Increased muscle growth and repair
  3. Reduces blood pressure and inflammation
  4. Helps with weight management by increasing resting energy expenditure (REE) through fat oxidation.

Let's take a closer look at these benefits in addition to a few others.

Nitric Oxide Increases Muscle Growth

Nitric oxide is associated with increased production of IGF-I, a protein involved in signaling cells to build new muscles.

Improves Endurance

Nitrates were also shown to increase nitrous oxide synthase activity which increases natural levels of nitrous oxide that enhances the ability for oxygen delivery throughout your body. This means better circulation for more nutrients delivered to your muscles!

Increases Rest Energy Expenditure

Increasing rest metabolism not only helps you burn calories but will help reduce cardiovascular issues like high cholesterol.

Healthy Blood Pressure

This is because nitrates are converted into nitric oxide which causes vasodilation, widening of blood vessels.

Decreases Inflammation

Nitric oxide has been shown to lower inflammation in the body, helping with autoimmune conditions.

Protects The Heart

Many studies have also indicated nitrates may help protect against heart disease by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels which can cause plaquing of arteries or atherosclerosis. Nitric Oxide is a Key Chemical for Healthy Muscle Growth!

Healthy Blood Sugar Levels

The antioxidants in leafy greens help to protect against high sugar that can cause diabetes and obesity over time! In fact a study has shown the intake of spinach for just four days was able to lower glucose production by up to 25%.

Improved Brain Function

Since nitric oxide acts as a vasodilator, it can help improve brain function by increasing the blood and oxygen supply to the head.

Protects Against Cancer

Nitric oxide is also helpful in protecting against cancer because of its ability to lower inflammation in cells.

Improves Recovery

Athletes who are nitrate deficient may see decreased performance as well as an increase fatigue or soreness after intense training sessions. The nitrates found in leafy greens help replenish levels for improved performance! .

The Best Nitric Oxide Foods and Supplements

foods that are high in nitrates

Add these foods into your diet today for an easy way to boost your NO!

  1. Leafy Greens: Spinach, kale, and swiss chard.
  2. Beets: Raw beets are high in nitrates. Beets also contain antioxidants that work on the cellular level to repair muscle cells and reduce oxidative stress from exercise-induced damage.
  3. Broccoli: One cup of raw broccoli contains almost as much nitrate as a quarter pounder hamburger patty (three ounces). Broccoli is rich in Vitamin C which has been shown to protect DNA during periods of extreme physical exertion while providing anti-inflammatory benefits for post-workout recovery time.
  4. Cabbage: One medium head of cabbage contains about 400 mgs or more than half your recommended daily intake of dietary nitrates per day!
  5. Spices: Add flavor without adding extra calories with these nutrient rich additions like turmeric, chili powder, cumin or oregano! These spices are loaded with dietary nitrates that will keep you energized for hours post workout session.
  6. Citrus Fruits: Oranges, lemons and grapefruit are all packed with vitamin C, which can help improve nitric oxide levels in the body.
  7. Olive Oil: This is a great substitute for butter or margarine and contains lower saturated fat content than both of those choices as well! Olive oil also contain polyphenols that have been shown to increase blood flow and decrease inflammation.
  8. Green Tea: Contains high levels of nitrate that can help improve the body's ability to absorb oxygen.
  9. Grapefruit Juice: This drink is packed with vitamin C and potassium, which are both essential for improving blood flow.
  10. Pomegranate Juice: Packed full of antioxidants, this juice also contains polyphenols which have been shown to decrease inflammation in the body!
  11. Coffee/Tea: Antioxidants found in coffee or tea may protect against chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. It has yet to be proven if caffeine intake actually improves nitric oxide levels in your system but it does contain more catechins than other caffeinated drinks so there's a chance it might do something positive for you too :)
  12. Watermelon: Contains high amounts of citrulline, a precursor to nitric oxide.
  13. Garlic: Contains high levels of selenium and vitamin B-12 which have been shown to increase nitric oxide production in the body!
  14. Coconut Water: Coconut water is an excellent source of potassium and low-calorie electrolytes, which helps hydrate your body after a tough workout session without adding weight or bloating! The amino acid arginine found in coconut water will also help increase nitric oxide production for improved blood flow and energy.
  15. Nuts And Seeds:  A healthy mix of walnuts, almonds, chia seeds all offer different benefits but the common denominator is that they're loaded with dietary nitrates.

5 Supplements That Increase Nitric Oxide

nitric oxide supplements

Have a hard time eating some of the foods listed above. Try these 5 supplements to help you naturally boost NO levels.

  1. Citrulline: The amino acid nitric oxide precursor that is found in watermelon, beets and garlic will increase your nitric oxide levels.
  2. L Arginine: This can be taken as a dietary supplement or you may find it naturally occurring in foods such as walnuts, almonds and chia seeds. It increases the production of blood vessels to deliver more oxygenated blood throughout your body which leads to better muscle growth and repair!
  3. N Acetyl L Cysteine (NAC): A powerful anti oxidant shown to reverse some effects of aging on skin cells while also increasing nitric oxide production with its detoxifying properties.
  4. Omega-s: These are found in fish oil, avocados and walnuts which will help regulate blood pressure levels by raising nitric oxide.
  5. B Vitamins: Especially B12 as it helps increase nitric oxide production while also helping red blood cells retain their shape so that they can transport more oxygenated blood throughout the body.

Dosage Of Supplemental Nitrates

Dosage of supplemental nitrates is 500mg daily taken orally or dissolved under tongue once per day.

Side Effects

Include Nausea, Headache And Dizziness. So Exercising Moderation Is Key Here!

The Bottom Line Of Nitrates and Nitric Oxide

Nitrates and nitric oxide are not just good for your health, but they also can help you feel better about yourself.

Additional Reading:

  • The Nitric Oxide Protocol by Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker
  • Benefits Of Nitric Oxides in Regulating Blood Pressure Levels by Elna Taylor M.D., FACP, FACE
  • Can a lack of nitrics oxide cause me to have bad circulation? by Julia Whitehead Health Professional And Author In Canada (This article is somewhat dated but it does provide some information on what the benefits might be)

About The Author:

Matt Mosman (MS, CISSN, CSCS) is a research scientist, endurance athlete, and the founder and Chief Endurance Officer at EndurElite. Matt holds his B.S. in Exercise Science from Creighton University and his M.S. in Exercise Physiology from the University of California.  Matt and his family reside in Spearfish South Dakota, where they enjoy running, mountain biking, camping, and all the outdoor adventures Spearfish has to offer.

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