Would you like to discover 3 foods you can eat daily, to boost nitric oxide production in the body, support cardiovascular health, and is proven by science? The effects of each food “layer” on top of each other, and have been found to improve blood flow, which helps reduce blood pressure. Studies have shown that cardiovascular disease risk is strongly associated with an increase in blood pressure, even when this is still within normal range.
Number 3. Nitrate-Rich Vegetables.
Consume at least 1 to 2 servings of vegetables daily. If you want to be precise, aim for 6.4 to 12.8 mg of nitrates per kilogram of body weight per day (or 2.9 to 5.8 mg per pound per day).
Number 2. Cocoa or Dark Chocolate.
Get your cocoa polyphenols, by eating about 30 grams of cocoa powder or 40 grams of dark chocolate with a 75% cocoa content.
Number 1. Garlic or Aged-Garlic.
Take 3 to 6 cloves of garlic (or 600 to 1,200 mg of an aged garlic extract) over several meals.
Nitrate-rich vegetables, cocoa, and garlic work synergistically to improve your cardiovascular system. Nitrates increase your blood levels of nitric oxide which improves blood flow. Cocoa helps maintain those high nitric oxide levels. Garlic enhances signaling for more nitric oxide production – so you can get your heart pumping strong!
Other than lowering blood pressure, boosting nitric oxide production helps enhance exercise performance, support weight loss, and delay cognitive decline.
Next, let’s look at each of these foods in detail.
Food Number 3: Nitrates.
Eating nitrate-rich foods is an effective way to increase nitric oxide synthesis in the body. This is the process:
Bacteria in the mouth convert some nitrates to nitrites.
In the stomach, nitrites are converted into nitric oxide.
Leftover nitrates and nitrites are absorbed in the small intestine.
The nitrates and nitrites that reach the blood can be converted into nitric oxide – a molecule that acts as a natural vasodilator – meaning it opens blood vessels.
Elevated nitric oxide levels are associated with better circulation and lower blood pressure. Eating nitrate-containing vegetables improves the function of endothelial cells that line the inside of your blood vessels. As an added bonus, it reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease – including peripheral artery disease, cancer, and premature death.
Nitrates are abundantly found in beetroot and leafy greens. These vegetables can be consumed whole or in liquid form (juice, smoothie, or purée) over several meals. They can also be drunk in one sitting a couple of hours before exercise.
The nitrate-rich vegetables in descending order of nitrate content are: arugula, turnip greens, dill, collard greens, spinach, Swiss chard, turnips, rhubarb, beetroot, celery, mustard greens, radish, lettuce, watercress, Bok choy, kale, and parsley.
Here’s a tip: Most vegetables rich in nitrates are also rich in oxalate, which can increase the risk of kidney stones. The solution is to cook the vegetables, or pair with calcium-rich foods to reduce oxalate absorption.
Food Number 2: Cocoa.
When nitric oxide is created, it has a half-life of only a few seconds due to its highly reactive nature. This means that this molecule can only travel limited distances before being oxidized. This is where cocoa and dark chocolate come into play. The high concentration of flavonoids like epicatechin in this delicious treat, helps support the high nitric oxide levels you’ve achieved by eating nitrate-rich vegetables.
Several potential mechanisms are supposed to be responsible for the positive effect of cocoa; among them the activation of nitric oxide synthase – the enzyme that is responsible for the production of nitric oxide in cells, and anti-inflammatory properties.
Food Number 1: Garlic.
Lastly, garlic enhances the signaling of nitric oxide. However, its blood pressure lowering effects are mostly due to another compound: hydrogen sulfide. Whether eaten as part of a meal or supplemented, garlic is a potent food that increases hydrogen sulfide signaling in the body — and helps relax blood vessels and lower blood pressure.
To maximize this effect, make sure to first cut or crush the cloves, to activate their bioactive compounds before cooking them or eating them raw. If you dislike the smell or taste of garlic, or if you wish to avoid the strong breath that comes from eating the cloves, you can choose to supplement with 600 to 1,200 mg of an aged garlic extract daily for the same benefits.