Nitric Oxide Foods: Benefits, Uses and Tips

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We decided to write about this topic because it’s important to know which nitric oxide foods you should consume to achieve your personal nutritional goals.

Also, nitric oxide (NO) supplements are equally important if you’re not getting enough of this compound through diet alone.

The importance of nitric oxide is greater than you might think. For example, it is a vital component for fulfilling the neurotransmitter cycle of cells in the body.

When it comes to sports and health, its consumption brings certain benefits. These benefits can be exploited depending on the intended goals.

Below, we show you everything you need to know about this chemical compound. “NO” can become an effective ally for your daily exercise routine and overall health.

Nitric oxide, an unexpected ally

Nitric Oxide Foods

Nitric oxide is normally obtained through the consumption of healthy foods. Traditionally, it was given qualities related to virility, being shown to help male erection.

With time, its use was implemented in the sports world.

When nitric oxide is consumed, a reaction occurs that releases L-arginine, synthesizing the protein chains. Such synthesizers are the ones that trigger the processes that the body needs in certain circumstances.

L-arginine is present in foods such as:

  • Tuna
  • Nuts
  • Salmon
  • Cod
  • Hazelnuts
  • Almonds

Nitric oxide foods and benefits

NO has gained its reputation in the sports world because of its benefits. It doesn’t matter if your goals are short, medium, or long term.

Nitric oxide improves athletes’ life quality and normal people who want to enhance their performance (or recover it).

Nitric oxide for muscle recovery

NO has huge benefits for cardiovascular capacity. It significantly increases blood flow.

This brings more oxygen to the muscles and removes ammonia from the tissues (this substance is an obstacle for fast recovery).

Also, it helps prevent muscle fatigue that occurs when muscles run out of oxygen, thus generating lactic acid in the muscle tissues.

This fatigue is mainly caused by intense training sessions, limiting the ability to increase muscle mass. NO reduces the amount of lactic acid in the muscles and, therefore, avoids muscle fatigue.

L-arginine and fat burning

As mentioned earlier, NO is an important source of L-arginine, an amino acid responsible for glucose transport to the muscles. This makes an “energy bridge” between the cells and the body.

It means that when you exercise, more glucose will go to your muscle cells, which helps to burn body fat deposits more easily. It also works as a catalyst to get rid of that fat.

Nitric oxide foods: The complete list

Nitric Oxide Foods


This earthy vegetable contains high levels of nitrate compared to other plants. It is also good for reducing the amount of estrogen in the body. Read more about beet benefits.


Many people’s favorite: chocolate. Cocoa in its raw form increases nitric oxide production, lowering blood pressure.


Coenzyme Q10 can be found in salmon. Q10 collaborates with the correct functioning of the cardiovascular system by producing nitric oxide and helps prevent wrinkles.


Rich in citrulline, the best amino acid for increasing nitric oxide levels in the body.


They are the best source of arginine, which after the digestion process is converted into nitric oxide.


According to some studies, garlic is a great activator of nitric oxide. This food helps to lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure when there is hypertension. Researchers say it may even be more beneficial than some medications.


These are rich in vitamin E, increasing testosterone levels, and helping the arteries produce nitric oxide to reduce blood pressure better.

They also contain arginine like pistachios and other nuts that offer many benefits to the body and health.

Brown rice

The intake of brown rice increases the level of nitric oxide in greater quantity.

Nitric Oxide Foods


It can cause a 30% decrease in arterial plaque and increase the testosterone level by more than 20%.


Another food full of nitrates is spinach; it greatly supports the production increase of nitric oxide.


Vitamin C is known to protect nitric oxide molecules.


Among its many benefits, they help lowering blood pressure.

Black tea

The caffeine contained in black tea is vasoconstrictive and has a vasodilatory effect. This drink increases the production of NO and relaxes the arteries.

Cayenne pepper

It has a lot of capsaicin, a compound that provides peppers with “heat.” According to several studies, this compound increases nitric oxide in the body.


Honey activates nitric oxide production because of the large number of enzymes and nitrate it contains.


It contains the coenzyme Q10 and high levels of nitrate that raise testosterone levels and regulate blood pressure.


Onion is good for many things. It also contains quercetin to help increase the levels of nitric oxide.

Nitric oxide supplements

Supplements are available in tablet form and are used by athletes and bodybuilders. However, it is not explicitly found in food.

Nitric oxide is a chemical compound that has become indispensable in sports supplementation for all the virtues it brings to high-performance athletes.

fitness supplements

Nitric oxide also helps regulate blood pressure and prevent the formation of arteriosclerotic plaques and thrombi.

Among its benefits, it also strengthens the immune system and helps neurotransmitters by oxygenating the brain.

Although this supplement is not evident in the food, it can be increased in the body through a long list of foods containing arginine, citrulline, and coenzyme Q10 (as seen in the list above), which activate the production of nitric oxide.

Nitric oxide benefits

  • It helps the cells in their task of burning the most fat
  • Helps to heal faster
  • Reduces pain throughout the body
  • It is favorable for the respiratory system
  • Cares for the immune system while inhibiting bacteria and viruses
  • It also helps the digestive system
  • Promotes rest at bedtime
  • Controls blood sugar levels
  • It is a good anti-inflammatory
  • Contributes to heart health, especially by increasing blood flow for good arterial circulation
  • Improves sexual health
  • Increases energy
  • Promotes proper absorption of nutrients

Other tips

Nitric oxide levels in the body can also rise while you exercise every day.

Physical training causes the heart to pump blood more strongly to carry oxygen throughout the body.

The extra strain of the blood against the artery walls also encourages an increase in the chemical compound.

You may want to read: 10 Benefits of Cardio Exercises

Consuming arginine and citrulline through nuts and fruits or meats and dairy products will give you the necessary amount of nitric oxide for the time leading up to the workout.

NO will give you better circulation, more oxygen, nutrients, and a favorable muscular condition after all the fluids reach the cells.

Bodybuilders use nitric oxide a lot, not only because it makes them visually stronger but also because it activates muscle growth and provides strength and endurance.

Nitric oxide foods: Try this natural shake!


  • Your regular whey protein dose
  • One cup of 1% skim milk
  • Three beets

How to make:

Take the three beets, wash them, peel them and cut them into small pieces.

Then place them in a blender with the whey protein and the cup of skimmed milk.



Drinking this shake before training will increase the nitric oxide levels needed for better congestion.

The virtue of including whey protein is that it is easy to digest and accumulates amino acids, which are then sent to the muscles, preparing them in advance for physical exertion.

Skimmed milk is an alternative to using water and covering up the beets’ flavor, which is not always pleasant.

The milk product will make it a creamier drink, besides increasing the proteins and carbohydrates.

Beets have numerous benefits and increase nitric oxide levels, much more than when compared to arginine or another amino acid.

This is probably the first time you are recommended a shake with beets in it. But trust me, there’s a good reason for it.

It also lowers blood pressure and relaxes blood vessels.

Encourage yourself to include nitric oxide foods in your diet and follow expert recommendations.

You will have a stronger body and meet all your sports goals through increased performance and muscle capacity.

Don’t forget that nitric oxide will help you become a healthier person, with a strong immune system, less prone to wrinkles and with a circulatory system that is in line with your physical activity.

And if you prefer, you can also take it as a dietary supplement.

Nitric oxide side effects

  • Insomnia
  • Headache
  • Dizziness, tachycardia
  • Upset stomach
  • Inflammation in the airways
  • For asthmatics: Worsening of the disease
  • Not suitable for people with blood pressure problems

For these reasons, it is recommended not to abuse nitric oxide supplements. Any doubt, consult with a nutritionist.

Nitric oxide disputes

Many athletes resort to dietary supplements in the quest to get stronger, faster, more explosive, and leaner. The most popular being nitric oxide.

Some specialists recommend its consumption, and many athletes claim to have improved their performance since they started taking them.

But some professionals claim that nitric oxide use has not yet been shown to produce performance improvements based on current scientific evidence. That is why they advise against it since they don’t consider it useful.

Let’s read the opinion of two nutritionists related to the sports field in general and who provide conflicting views on the consumption of nitric oxide:

Rolando Chatterton- fitness coach in Melbourne, AU (against its use)

According to the Australian Institute of Sport’s classification system for supplements and sports foods, nitric oxide supplements are in the group of supplements with little evidence of positive benefits.

Current scientific evidence indicates that the likelihood of benefit is too small to recommend its use.

Initially, NO was used as a vasodilator of the endothelium (tissue lining the blood vessels). It was found that the human body produces it in small amounts from the amino acid L-arginine, the main ingredient in most NO-stimulating supplements.

Consumption of this precursor was quickly associated with the production of NO and its muscle vasodilating action, and many advertisements appeared referring to its benefit for athletes.

But several studies indicate that there are no effects of oral L-arginine on vasodilation. Nor do they indicate any benefit of this amino acid with increased circulating nitric oxide levels or improving blood flow.

On the other hand, research on athletes using these supplements has found no evidence of improvement.

The supplement business’s great commercial interest and the lack of information and advice can often bring health risks, loss of time and money in products that don’t work.

Ron Maughan, renowned professor and international expert in sports physiology and nutrition, says, “If the supplements work, they are probably banned; and if they are not banned, they probably won’t work, although there are some exceptions.”

Supplements are not a substitute for a good diet. They can only be considered when good nutrition, hydration, training, and rest are assured.

This supplement is only safe in the short term as long as it’s used under medical supervision. If used continuously for a long period, the precursors of NO due to its vasodilator effect can cause a drop in blood pressure (hypotension) and gastrointestinal disorders such as abdominal distension or nausea.

Joseph Garcia – Nutritionist in London, UK (recommends its use)

Nitric oxide is a simple gas whose direct precursor is the amino acid L-Arginine. The enzyme nitric oxide synthetase (NOS) is responsible for L-arginine’s catabolism into nitric oxide and citrulline in endothelial cells.

It is a molecule that has revolutionized the field of sports nutrition. Today there is an important amount of products commercialized as precursors of nitric oxide due to the benefits attributed to it during the practice of sports, of which the most relevant are:

Its role as a vasodilator, that is, the relaxation of soft muscles that tighten the blood vessels.

This would facilitate blood circulation, achieving greater irrigation in the muscles, thus providing them with a greater amount of nutrients and oxygen.

Increase in time to exhaustion (fatigue resistance) and a decrease in oxygen consumption during training. This was revealed in a study headed by S. J. Bailey and published in applied physiology.

Another aspect to consider is the activation of the satellite cells, which are in charge of donating the necessary nuclei to increase muscle size.

It is believed that the increase of nitric oxide in the muscles is the first step to activate these cells. Research led by J. E. Anderson, published in the Canadian Journal of physiology and pharmacology, provides evidence on this point.

In people who exercise recreationally, three times a week or less, nitric oxide is functional in the positive effects mentioned above.

Athletes with higher training volume and elite athletes have a greater capacity to generate nitric oxide endogenously.

nitric oxide foods

Nitric Oxide Foods: Benefits, Uses and Tips

Joel & The Wellness Team

Hey! Joel here; A graduate of Herbalism & Naturopathic Medicine School. My team and I are passionate about finding ways to improve our lives on a daily basis and truly believe in natural alternatives of doing so before seeking traditional medications. However, always consult with your Doctor/Physician first before taking any actions regarding your health. Stay Safe and Healthy!

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