Best Nitric Oxide Foods For Heart Health (Free Download)

Knowing which foods are the best nitric oxide foods can benefit heart health.

Nitric oxide is a molecule that plays a crucial role in cardiovascular health, helping to relax and widen blood vessels, lower blood pressure, and improve blood flow.

While there are many ways to support nitric oxide production in the body, including regular exercise and stress management techniques, diet can also play a significant role. Some foods are particularly rich in nutrients that can boost nitric oxide levels, while others can inhibit its production. 

Read on to learn how to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease by including some of the best nitric oxide-rich foods in your diet, as well as learning what foods to avoid.

What is Nitric Oxide?

Nitric oxide is a signaling molecule produced by the cells in our body that play a crucial role in regulating various physiological processes, including blood pressure, immune function, and neurotransmission.

Nitric oxide is a vasodilator, which means it helps to relax the blood vessels and increase blood flow to various organs and tissues in the body (1). This increased blood flow can lead to improved cardiovascular health, cognitive function, and exercise performance. Nitric oxide is also involved in the immune response and helps to fight off infections (1).

Including nitric oxide in your diet can help to increase the production of this important signaling molecule, which can have positive effects on various aspects of your health. 

However, it is important to note that while consuming nitric oxide-rich foods can help increase nitric oxide production, the effects may vary depending on individual factors such as genetics, age, and overall health status.  


How Does Nitric Oxide Help With Heart Disease?

Nitric oxide plays an important role in regulating cardiovascular function.  Deficiencies in nitric oxide production have been linked to the development of cardiovascular diseases, including coronary heart disease and heart attacks(1).

Nitric oxide helps to regulate blood pressure by relaxing the smooth muscle cells in the walls of the blood vessels, which leads to vasodilation and improved blood flow. This helps to decrease the workload on the heart, reducing the risk of hypertension and other cardiovascular conditions.

Nitric oxide also helps to prevent the formation of blood clots and plaque buildup in the arteries, which can lead to atherosclerosis and other cardiovascular complications. Thus, unclogging arteries. By promoting vasodilatation and reducing inflammation, nitric oxide helps to maintain the health of the endothelial cells that line the blood vessels, which is crucial for overall cardiovascular health (2).

Studies have shown that increasing nitric oxide production through diet and supplementation can have positive effects on various aspects of cardiovascular health, including reducing blood pressure, improving endothelial function, and reducing the risk of heart disease (3). 

However, most information is from small studies and more research is needed to fully understand the role of nitric oxide in cardiovascular disease, and determine the optimal levels of nitric oxide for maintaining cardiovascular health.

In summary, the benefits of nitric oxide foods are: 

  • Improved blood flow and oxygen delivery
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Reduced inflammation
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13 Best Nitric Oxide Foods

The amount by which each of these foods increases nitric oxide production can vary depending on various factors such as the amount of the food consumed, the individual’s overall health status, and other factors.  Check out this list of foods with some great recipe ideas that raise nitric oxide levels!

Be sure to download the best nitric oxide food list at the end of this section that summarizes which foods to include more of to increase nitric oxide in the body. 

Tomatoes

Tomatoes are foods rich in nitric oxide because of they are high in an antioxidant called lycopene.  This antioxidant has been shown to improve nitric oxide production and blood vessel function (4). Check out this protein tomato soup recipe.

Protein tomato soup displayed in white mug bowl on white plate topped with pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, cashews and a side of whole grain crackers.

Turmeric

Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory effects, and increasing nitric acid in foods can help improve nitric oxide production in the body (5). Try this fantastic turmeric energy ball recipe.

Turmeric energy balls displayed on a brown plate on a white countertop beside a brown mug of coffee.

Cabbage

Cabbage is rich in nitrates, which can be converted into nitric oxide in the body and this is one of the best foods for nitric oxide production (6). Use cabbage in this kale apple slaw

Kale apple slaw presented on a white plate beside a bunch of kale.

Onions

Onions are a nitric oxide-rich food that is high in sulfur compounds that can help to stimulate the production of nitric oxide (7). Onions are a staple in the list of low-cholesterol foods too. 

Celery

Celery is also a food that is high in nitrates and can help to improve nitric oxide production and blood vessel function. Use it when making heart-healthy fish cakes without potato

2 salmon fish cakes without potatoes displayed on a white plate with a slice of lime and minced herbs.

Green tea

Green tea contains compounds called catechins, which have been shown to increase nitric oxide production and improve blood flow (8). These results place green tea on par with other foods that are high in nitric oxide.

Beets

Beets are one of the most potent nitric oxide-boosting foods, as they are high in nitrates that can be converted into nitric oxide in the body. 

Studies have shown that consuming beetroot juice or beets can significantly increase nitric oxide levels in the blood and improve blood flow (9). This makes beets the best food for nitric oxide. Include them in this beet smoothie to lower blood pressure, beet green smoothie, or this beet mac and cheese recipe, without the taste of beet being overpowering. 

Dark Leafy Greens

Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, arugula, Swiss chard, Bok choy, and kale contain high levels of nitrates. These have a positive effect, increasing nitric oxide production in the body (10).  Try using them in this pesto butter salmon recipe. 

Cooked pesto butter salmon on top of cooked greens and white kidney beans in a white bowl on top of a white countertop.

Garlic

Garlic is a food that raises nitric oxide levels because it contains a compound called allicin.  Allicin can help to increase nitric oxide production and improve blood vessel function (11). Find it in this low-sodium pizza sauce recipe. 

Low sodium pizza sauce on whole wheat pizza crust with melted cheese and cooked spinach on top presented on a wood cutting board.

Citrus Fruits

Citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruits, and lemons are considered nitric oxide fruits. They are high in vitamin C, which can help to improve nitric oxide production and blood flow (12).  Try it in this pineapple cucumber ginger lemon weight loss water.

Jar of pineapple cucumber ginger lemon apple water in the background and a glass of water with some diced apples in the foreground on a countertop in front of a window

Pomegranate

Pomegranate is one of the top nitric oxide fruits.  It is rich in antioxidants, which can help to improve nitric oxide production and blood vessel function (13). You can include it in this juice recipe to lower cholesterol

Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate is considered one of the foods rich in nitric oxide as it contains flavanitric oxides.  This can help to increase nitric oxide production and improve blood flow (14). You will love using this in my low-sodium hot chocolate recipe

Low sodium hot chocolate , topped with two large marshmallows, on a black and white tea towel surrounded by more large marshmallows.

Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds such as almonds, walnuts, hemp, and chia seeds are foods with high nitric oxide.  They are full of plant-based proteins and rich in arginine, an aminitric oxide acid that can help to increase nitric oxide production in the body (15). Try them in this chia seed coffee.

Chia seed coffee in a white mug presented on a wood table surrounded by coffee beans and a white tea towel.

To make it simple, I’ve compiled a list of some of the best nitric oxide foods and ways of increasing nitric oxide intake in a healthy diet. 

Nitric Oxide-Rich FoodsExamplesEasiest Ways To Include Them
TurmericFresh turmeric root, turmeric powderAdd turmeric to soups, stews, and curries, or mix into smoothies or tea
TeaGreen tea, black teaBrew a cup of tea and enjoy hot or cold, or use as a base for a refreshing iced tea
BeetsBeet juice, roasted beets, beet saladAdd beet juice to smoothies, roast beets and use them in salads or as a side dish
Leafy Green Vegetables Spinach, kale, arugulaUse as the base for salads or add to smoothies
GarlicRaw garlic, roasted garlic, garlic powderAdd to sauces, dressings, and marinades, or mix into mashed potatoes
Citrus FruitsOranges, grapefruit, lemonsSqueeze fresh citrus juice into water, salads, or marinades
PomegranatesPomegranate juice, fresh pomegranate seedsUse pomegranate juice as a base for salad dressings or add fresh pomegranate seeds to salads or yogurt
Nuts and SeedsPistachios, almonds, walnuts, chia seedsSnack on nuts, sprinkle seeds on top of salads or oatmeal, or add to smoothies
Dark ChocolateDark chocolate bars, cocoa powderEnjoy as a dessert or snack, or add cocoa powder to smoothies or oatmeal

Table: The best nitric oxide foods and how to include them in an eating pattern. 

Be sure to download the best nitric oxide food list here for a take-home summary about foods with high nitric oxide. 

Foods That Reduce Nitric Oxide

Yes, there are some foods that can reduce nitric oxide production in the body (16). Here are a few examples:

Foods High In Saturated And Trans Fats

These types of fats can decrease the activity of nitric oxide synthase, the enzyme that produces nitric oxide in the body. Examples include fatty cuts of meat, butter, full-fat dairy products, and fried foods. These are also foods to avoid with stroke

Foods High In Refined Carbohydrates And Sugar

Consuming too much refined carbohydrates and sugar can lead to insulin resistance and inflammation, which can impair nitric oxide production. Examples include white bread, white rice, candy, soda, and other sugary drinks.

Alcohol

Chronic alcohol consumption has been shown to reduce nitric oxide bioavailability in the body, which can impair vascular function.

Processed Foods

Many processed foods contain high amounts of sodium, which can lead to high blood pressure and impair the production and availability of nitric oxide in the body.

While it’s important to limit these types of foods in your diet, it’s also important to remember that a balanced and varied diet that includes plenty of whole foods, fruits, vegetables, and lean protein sources can help support nitric oxide production and overall cardiovascular health. 

Think Mediterranean diet, DASH dietPortfolio diet, and Mind diet ways of eating.

Final Thoughts

Maintaining healthy levels of nitric oxide is an important part of overall cardiovascular health, and diet can play a significant role in supporting its production. That’s why this list of best nitric oxide foods is so valuable.  Don’t forget to download yours here!

By including the best nitric oxide foods in your diet, such as leafy greens, beets, and citrus fruits, and avoiding foods that can inhibit nitric oxide production, like those high in saturated and trans fats and refined carbohydrates, you can help support optimal nitric oxide levels and promote heart health. 

As always, it’s important to work with your healthcare provider to develop a comprehensive plan for maintaining cardiovascular health, which may include diet modifications, exercise, and other lifestyle changes.


Image of Veronica Rouse with Free 7 day heart healthy meal plan freebie.

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