Nitric oxide supplements took the bodybuilding industry by storm a little more than a decade ago. The muscle-enhancing effects were real. While you may certainly use supplements, you can also consume nitric oxide foods for the same end results. We’ll take a look at some of these foods and the magic compounds that create that desired vasodilation after a good workout.

1. Beets

This red root vegetable has long been praised for its ability to almost immediately lower blood pressure upon ingestion. This is due to the heavy nitrates concentration. Studies show nitrates has a relaxant effect on the veins and coronary vessels, enabling them to enlarge and allow more oxygen-rich blood to flow. Studies confirm nitrates lower hypertension.

2. Watermelon

L-arginine is perhaps the most famous amino acid associated with having a vasodilation effect. While watermelon doesn’t contain arginine, it is high in the amino acid L-citruline, which is converted into arginine under the right conditions.

Keep in mind, though, that the bulk of the l-citruline is in the rind, or the outer part. This also happens to be the part most people avoid due to being less sweet.

3. Spinach

Nitric oxide foods also include Popeye’s favorite vegetable. What gave the sailor massive forearms was the leafy green’s high nitrate content. Plus, you’ll also get a load of rich antioxidants and vitamins, such as lutein, zeaxanthin, carotenoids, and vitamin K. If you’re interested in NO mainly for its muscle-building benefits, then you may be pleased to know that spinach is also high in the testosterone-promoting mineral magnesium.

4. Garlic

This herb is so beneficial that it’s worth having a few minutes of bad breath. It supports the synthesis of nitric oxide synthase (NOS). NOS by itself doesn’t do much. However, assuming ample vitamin B2 is available as a cofactor, the NOS is able to convert arginine into nitric oxide.

Garlic is also high in the sulfuric compound allicin. Studies show allicin reduces inflammation and may also reduce risk of coronary disease.

For best results, we recommend eating a clove or two with vitamin C. Studies show the combination of the two lowers systolic blood pressure and also elevates nitric oxide output by 200%!

5. Citric Fruits

We suggest consuming more whole oranges or grapefruits. Vitamin C is a precursor for NOS synthesis. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant known to fight harmful free radicals. In this case, it fends off the free radicals that may attack and nullify the nitric oxide. This is precisely why doctors recommend a vitamin C boost for anyone with the common cold or flu.

6. Pomegranate

Foods high in nitric oxide include the crimson-red pomegranate. Its high polyphenol content helps convert dietary nitrite into the usable nitric oxide and also prevents the NO from turning back into nitrite. The polyphenols also fight oxidative stress, thereby significantly lowering risk of heart disease. The fruit is especially high in a protein called monocyte chemoattractant, which helps strengthen blood vessel lining.

7. Arugula

Arugula has the highest known source of dietary nitrates. Surprisingly, this leafy green belongs in the cruciferous family, making it a cousin of the broccoli and cauliflower. Beware, however, that arugula is extremely bitter and far from a tasty vegetable. The bitter texture is due to a compound called sulforaphane, which also happens to be what gives arugula its cancer-fighting properties.

8. Grass-Fed Meats

Notice we didn’t list a specific meat. Most meat sources, including fish, are high in a nutrient called coenzyme Q10. This compound has been shown in studies to increase nitric oxide synthase. Organ meat is especially high in coenzyme C10.

Please do your best to stick to organic and grass-fed meat, which has the highest concentrations of CoQ10.

9. Dark Chocolate

Yes, you can get a nitric oxide boost by eating this guilty pleasure. However, don’t exactly head over to the vending machine for the Hershey bar just yet. We are actually referring to raw cacao. Studies show that subjects who consumed dark chocolate for 15 days benefited from higher NO serum levels and reduced systolic blood pressure.

You may consume solid dark chocolate in moderation. Due to the high sugar content found in just about every processed candy bar, we don’t recommend more than one serving per day.

10. Walnuts*

Last and somewhat least are walnuts. It’s not a typo that we put an asterisk next to walnuts. Here’s the deal: walnuts are high in L-arginine and heart-healthy vitamin E. On the surface, the nut appears to be a potent superfood, and we agree with that – to a certain extent.

The problem with walnuts – and most other nuts – is the high polyunsaturated fat (PUFAs) content. If you read our previous posts, then you may be aware that we are fervently anti-PUFA. PUFAs in high amounts lowers testosterone and also increases oxidative damage. See our post on the hidden dangers of nuts.

We recommend exploring the other foods high in nitric oxide before considering walnuts. However, if you absolutely love nuts and want to diversify your food options, then you may consume walnuts in small amounts. We recommend no more than one serving every few days.

Nitric Oxide Foods Belong in Every Dietary Lifestyle

We suggest making at least two or three of the nitric oxide foods a part of your daily diet. Vasodilation is not only proven to enhance muscle growth but also improves overall health in so many ways, making it beneficial for both men and women.

Alternatively, you can also look into nitric oxide supplements like Redwood. This all-natural product contains proven compounds – some of which we listed – that increase vasodilation and improve blood and nutrient transport to the vital organs.


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