Have you never heard of nitric oxide? If not, you might want to take the time to familiarize yourself with this powerful and chemical. This miracle molecule has so many benefits for your body and overall health; it cannot be covered in a single article.
Nitric Oxide (NO) is a molecule produced naturally in the body which is vital to numerous aspects of health. Nitric oxide does most of its work via vasodilation, relaxing and widening the blood vessels. This process is where the magic happens, allowing for improved blood flow and a wide range of health benefits as a by-product. One of the best ways to naturally increase NO production in the body is simply making changes to your diet.
There are a LOT of nitric oxide boosting foods out there that can enhance nitric oxide production, so it will be impossible to list them all without making this way too long to read. I will break down some of the most popular foods used to enhance nitric oxide production to make the list more concise. So here is a list of foods you can start eating today to boost your nitric oxide levels.


1. Beets

This one should come as no surprise to anyone who knows anything about nitric oxide. This powerhouse of a superfood is essential for anyone looking to maximize nitric oxide levels purely through diet. Beets are a vegetable highly rich in dietary nitrates, which your body can use to convert into nitric oxide. This root has been linked to multiple health benefits such as improved cognitive function, boosting stamina, improving blood flow, and lowering blood pressure. Beets are a great choice for decreasing the risk of heart issues as you age, so consider supplementing them if you like to eat your red foods.


2. Garlic

If you aren’t a vampire, this one will work well for you. Garlic can enhance nitric oxide production by activating an enzyme called nitric oxide synthase. This enzyme helps the amino acid L-Arginine convert into nitric oxide. Garlic has been linked to improved exercise tolerance and decreased blood pressure so if you like eating garlic, you’re in luck.


3. Pomegranates

Within some circles of the fitness community, this one is a useful hack. Pomegranate juice has been used by bodybuilders for years to decrease muscle soreness and improve recovery between training sessions. Pomegranates can do much more though. Pomegranates are high in polyphenol antioxidants as well as nitrates, making them excellent vasodilators. This vasodilation promotes blood flow as well as potentially improved oxygen and nutrient delivery to cells, hence the usefulness for active individuals.
Even if you are not super active, the antioxidants found in pomegranates are great for protecting your cells from oxidative damage. Furthermore, the increased blood flow from vasodilation can potentially improve conditions such as erectile dysfunction and hypertension. If you’re a fan of sweet fruit juices, add pomegranates as a nitric oxide boosting food.


4. Eggs

Eggs are a go-to for many people as a breakfast staple food. This one is also another staple for fitness buffs who want to make sure they get their morning protein fix. There may be something to the eggs for breakfast we are all ingrained with from an early age. Eggs happen to be high in the amino acid L-Arginine, a precursor to nitric oxide. L-Arginine helps release nitric oxide into the blood, which in turn channels all the wonderful benefits of nitric oxide such as improved blood circulation, endothelial function, etc.

While the body does produce L-Arginine naturally, as we age this production may not be enough to provide the body what it needs to function optimally. For this reason, finding foods high in amino acids like L-Arginine is crucial for staying active and healthy as we age. Eggs are easily accessible for most people, so it’s an easy choice for a nitric oxide boosting food (provided you are not a vegetarian).


5. Watermelon

As we move into the summer season, watermelon is a classic fruit choice for hydrating and enjoying a sweet and healthy treat. Like most things on this list, watermelon has many other uses outside of being delicious. Watermelon is known for having high levels of the amino acid L-citrulline, another precursor amino acid to produce nitric oxide. The body uses L-Citrulline to create L-Arginine, which in turn facilitates the production of nitric oxide. As you may know by now, this NO production thanks to the conversion of L-Citrulline into L-Arginine allows blood vessels to relax and widen, improving blood circulation as well as a host of other health benefits. Whether this treat is a sweet snack or an intentional diet choice, you cannot go wrong with this nitric oxide boosting food.


6. Pumpkin Seeds

Who else is a BIG FAN of Halloween? What is one item that jumps out at you when you think of Halloween? Is it the candy? The costumes? The slight chill in the air? If you’re like me, you think of jack-o-lanterns and all the cool carvings you can do. I go on Pinterest every year and try to replicate (often to comical failure) an extravagant pumpkin carving. Pumpkins can serve another purpose; one more healthy and possibly less frustrating than trying to copy the cool Pinterest carving. No, I do not mean pumpkin pie (but that is good).

Pumpkins can boost your nitric oxide levels! Pumpkin seeds contain antioxidants that work to rid the body of excess free radicals as well as improve blood flow. This improved blood flow reduces the risk of plague buildup in blood vessels and reduces the risk of hypertension and other heart health problems. So, this Halloween when you go to scrape out your pumpkin to carve a ghoulish jack-o-lantern, keep the seeds. Those seeds are a nitric oxide boosting food you don’t want to waste!


7. Cucumber

Where are my salad peeps at? This one is for you. If you are a fan of salads, chances are you eat cucumber. Pickle fans will also fall into this one to some degree. Cucumbers have decent amounts of the amino acid L-Citrulline, so the body will convert the L-Citrulline into L-Arginine for nitric oxide to be produced and released. Cucumbers do not have as much L-Citrulline as watermelon, but they are lower in sugar and calories. Like watermelon, cucumbers are mostly water, so are naturally hydrating as well. If you’re looking for a nitric oxide boosting food that is low in sugar and low in calories, cucumber is a must-add to your diet.


8. Spinach

Who remembers the jingle Popeye the Sailor Man used to sing when he would prepare to accomplish superhuman feats of strength to save Olive Oyl? If you were a fan of the cartoon, you know Popeye charged up by gobbling down a big tin can full of spinach. Ironically, despite the hyperbole there is something to Popeye being charged up on this leafy green.

Spinach is one of those vegetables like beets with high levels of natural nitrates. These nitrates convert directly into nitric oxide. Because of these dietary nitrates, spinach is a great addition to your diet. On top of this, regular consumption of spinach and other leafy greens like arugula can reduce the risk of cognitive function decline and cardiovascular issues. Maintaining optimal levels of nitric oxide has been linked to boosted energy levels and improved stamina in people, so Popeye had the right idea. Be like Popeye the Sailor Man and add this nitric oxide boosting food to your diet.


9. Beef and Fish

Red meat and seafood are not the same thing. However, in terms of nitric oxide boosting these foods act in similar ways so I will discuss them together. Meats such as beef and fish both contain high levels of Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). CoQ10 helps preserve the nitric oxide levels in your body. Almost every cell in your body contains CoQ10. This compound is vital to processes such as energy promotion and ridding the body of free radicals. Having ample CoQ10 also promotes good heart health, so it’s a good idea to have it in your diet anyway. Animal foods such as seafood and red meat have some of the highest amounts of CoQ10 available naturally. Since CoQ10 has been linked to being able to preserve nitric oxide within the body, it is certainly a nitric oxide boosting food to add if dietary preferences allow.


10. Chocolate

As how most people do with eating, we saved the dessert for last. The last food I’m including on this list is chocolate, specifically dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is not for everyone since it is typically less sweet than milk or white chocolate. However, dark chocolate has a few health benefits if consumed reasonably. Dark chocolate contains compounds called flavanols due to the cocoa concentrations in dark chocolate. These compounds rid the body of free radicals as well as increase nitric oxide levels in the body. Dark chocolate has been shown to lower stress, reduce blood pressure, and improve brain function in some studies. Most studies advise consuming dark chocolate with a 70%-80% cocoa concentration. While it isn’t as sweet of a dessert as you might like, it’s still cool chocolate is a nitric oxide boosting food.


Eat Well. Live Well.

This list is far from exhaustive. Other foods you can add to your diet include arugula, broccoli, citrus fruits, other seeds and nuts, poultry, kiwi, kale, cabbage, Bok choy, spirulina, red wine, and so many more. Chances are you can find something out there that will fit your dietary preferences and restrictions that will boost your nitric oxide levels while tasting great!