Nitric oxide (NO), dubbed the “miracle molecule,” is a gas comprised of oxygen and nitrogen. Nitric oxide helps optimize our blood flow, supports our immune system, supports cognitive functions, and so much more. Our bodies naturally produce NO via lifestyle choices and diet. However, the best way to boost nitric oxide is with diet changes. The goal of this article is to provide baseline knowledge of NO and offer some useful methods for boosting your nitric oxide production capacity with whole food choices.


Whole foods…this is the way…to boost nitric oxide

If you have not been living under a rock, you are well aware that fad diets are very much ingrained into our lives. We see new diet trends popping up on social media, in the news, on websites, and everywhere in between every day. Your view on macronutrients such as fats and carbohydrates will depend on which nutrition guru you subscribe to. You will hear that carbs are the enemy if you’re keto-based. Nutrition purists will tell you to eliminate all sugar and processed foods. Some gurus will tell you to only eat fruits and vegetables. Others will tell you to cut gluten out of your diet.

Plenty of “professionals” will also tell you to eat within a window and fast the rest of the time. With all these suggestions being thrown at you, and plenty of hard data backing their claims, it can be tough to figure out what works best for you. However, if you can fight your way through the chaos, you’ll know the best diet is one consisting of a balance of protein, fruits, vegetables, grains, seeds, and other components. Eating this way consistently and moderately when paired with quality sleep and exercise is a strong foundation for a healthy life.


What’s the deal with nitric oxide?

Nitric oxide does not get the credit it is due. NO is not a topic heavily discussed in health and wellness circles often. This is a shame because NO is essential for a healthy life. Integrating the right NO-friendly whole foods is important for supporting your overall health and wellness goals. We will explore:


  • A breakdown of what nitric oxide is and what it does
  • Some of the benefits of NO
  • Some whole foods that are NO-friendly
  • Different ways to integrate those foods into your diet.

Without further ado, let’s dig into the good stuff.


What is nitric oxide and what does it do?

NO is a powerful gas that serves as a messenger molecule. NO is vital for most cells in the body. For those for whom chemistry is not their forte, we abbreviate nitric oxide as NO because it has one nitrogen molecule and one oxygen molecule. NO’s biggest role in the body is that of vasodilator. This means NO signals the smooth muscles in the inner lining of arterial walls to relax and expand. When this happens, blood flow can become more efficient. Also, NO is capable of triggering immune cells to fight off infections and intruders. Furthermore, NO helps neurons in the brain communicate, fending off cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s.

With all this being said, what else can nitric oxide do? To avoid making this article way too long, I will just provide a list of other benefits rather than a detailed breakdown. NO can:


  • Lower blood pressure
  • Helps control joint inflammation and arthritis
  • Supports bone health
  • Helps keep arteries flexible
  • Works to keep skin healthy
  • Protects skin from sun damage
  • Reduces risk of heart disease
  • Can help reduce erectile dysfunction in men
  • Helps lower cholesterol
  • Helps prevent blood clots from forming
  • Can reduce the risk of diabetes
  • Able to improve energy and stamina
  • Improves exercise performance
  • Can reduce muscle soreness

It is easy to see how essential NO is to our health. These many benefits are exactly why we refer to NO as the miracle molecule.


All good things must come to an end

Like I’ve already said, nitric oxide is naturally produced in our bodies via arterial wall linings. Unfortunately, as we age this production efficiency diminishes. By the time you are 40, you will likely be producing only half of what you were at age 25. The downside of this inevitable diminished capacity to produce NO can increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and more. Because of this, we must find ways to boost nitric oxide production.

If you happen to be a little older and are worried you might be deficient in nitric oxide, there are signs you can look for. However, if you’re looking to enhance your overall health through diet changes, you may be wondering which foods contain the miracle molecule so I can boost nitric oxide levels.

The good news is that there are plenty of options to choose from. Our bodies make nitric oxide by digesting and converting precursors of NO into our food. These precursors are L-arginine, L-citrulline, and naturally occurring nitrates. However, we must make the call on which foods best suit our needs.


So, which foods help you boost nitric oxide?

If you’re looking to use nitrates as a NO booster for your diet, most vegetables – particularly leafy greens – are the best choice. Following those would be other foods such as certain fruits, meat, dark chocolate, garlic, and some nuts and seeds. If you’re looking at the amino acid L-arginine to boost nitric oxide, some choices for food could include salmon, almonds, dairy products, and other nuts and seeds. If the choice is the amino acid L-citrulline, some food choices can include watermelon, pumpkin, squash, chickpeas, and cucumbers.

Below you will see a list of foods to keep handy for trips to the grocery store. If you buy several of these superfoods, you’ll for sure be maximizing your nitric oxide production capacity, no matter what age you are.


Nitric oxide boost
Boost nitric oxide with this whole foods list


How to use whole foods to boost NO production

Now for what you clicked on this article for. Now that you know a little more about what nitric oxide is and what foods to eat to boost it, we can look at a few tips for meals you can use to maximize your nitric oxide production at every meal. Be sure to keep these tips in mind. Consider bookmarking this article so you can come back to it later for reference.

Tip #1: Eat RAW greens with every meal if possible. At the very least, shoot for raw greens with one meal every day at an absolute minimum. Because greens are so high in nitrates, they are the ideal whole food for boosting nitric oxide. Eat them raw if possible, since cooking them can diminish some of the nutrients your body can use.

Tip #2: Polyphenols make a great addition to your meals. Polyphenols are antioxidants found in foods such as grapes, dark chocolate, and berries. Red Wine also contains polyphenols, so having a glass at dinner can boost your nitric oxide production.

Tip #3: Add unsaturated oils to the mix. This means olive oil, avocado oil, and other oils containing healthy fats. Eating more fish or supplementing fish oil is recommended as well.

Tip #4: Less is more. The less prepping and cooking required, the more intact the nutrients needed for nitric oxide production stay. Limit the amount of boiling for baking in your meals containing vegetables and fruits.

Tip #5: Stay away from NO-depleting foods. Processed foods, fried foods, salty foods, sugar, and saturated fats all create oxidative stress in the body. These create free radicals that lead to inflammation and other problems. Limit your consumption of these foods as well as beer and liquors to maximize your nitric oxide production.


What if I want to look into supplements?

The above tips are a great way to boost nitric oxide via diet. However, I understand many people will still want to look into supplements for convenience when whole foods are harder to come by. When this happens, making sure to choose a high-quality supplement is paramount. You must also understand that nitric oxide supplements do not contain NO itself, as it is a gaseous molecule. Nitric oxide supplements contain precursors to NO such as nitrates, L-arginine, and L-citrulline in various quantities for the body to use to produce NO.



The Takeaway

Whether you look to boost nitric oxide via diet or supplementation, now you have the knowledge needed to make an informed decision that will improve your overall health and wellness for years to come! Bookmark this article for future use, and make sure to share this new knowledge with your friends and loved ones so they can reap the same benefits as you!