The Best Nitric Oxide Foods to Increase Blood Flow and Boost Performance

If you’re on the health club with your music playing and your blood flowing, nitric oxide is at work in your physique. It helps to widen your blood vessels, and in flip can enhance your coaching, enhance restoration, and shield your coronary heart and mind well being.

Whereas there are many nitric oxide-boosting dietary supplements available on the market, you may typically get the whole lot you want by way of your eating regimen. Many health lovers eat a diet wealthy in greens, fruits, antioxidants, and protein. If that is you, you’re already getting some strong dietary sources of nitric oxide. 

Food rich in nitric oxide - beetroot juice.
Credit score: BLACKDAY / Shutterstock

Nitric oxide is synthesized from the amino acids L-citrulline, L-arginine, and nitrates. Consuming meals wealthy in these substances is an effective way to naturally enhance nitric oxide. Let’s dive into one of the best nitric oxid meals — in different phrases, what meals are highest in nitric oxide sources — and why they’re value including to your vitamin plan.

Editor’s Observe: The content material on BarBend is supposed to be informative in nature, however it shouldn’t be taken as medical recommendation. When beginning a brand new coaching routine and/or eating regimen, it’s at all times a good suggestion to seek the advice of with a trusted medical skilled. We aren’t a medical useful resource. The opinions and articles on this website are usually not supposed to be used as prognosis, prevention, and/or remedy of well being issues. They aren’t substitutes for consulting a professional medical skilled.

What Is Nitric Oxide?

Nitric oxide is a free radical and a naturally occurring gasoline in your physique. (1) It lowers cell inflammation and widens blood vessels. Vasodilation — or blood circulation — is elevated when blood vessels aren’t restricted. (2) Due to this relationship to blood circulation, nitric oxide might assist regulate blood strain and enhance cognition. (3)(4

Nitric oxide is generated within the physique by two pathways. One relies on the enzyme nitric oxide synthase; the second depends on the precursors L-arginine and nitrates, and L-citrulline as a precursor for L-arginine. (5) Nitric oxide synthase additionally helps to transform L-arginine into nitric oxide. 

These processes occur naturally, however you can even improve nitric oxide by choosing foods and dietary supplements with these essential elements. L-arginine and L-citrulline are muscle-building amino acids that you could be already be acquainted with, and are already getting by way of your protein intake.

Nitric Oxide Pure Sources

Nitric oxide is a gasoline, and you may’t really take it in gasoline kind. Whereas there are meals that produce nitric oxide, there aren’t really meals that comprise nitric oxide.

One solution to boost nitric oxide is to eat meals that comprise L-citrulline — the precursor to L-arginine — like watermelon. Meals that comprise the amino acid L-arginine are additionally nitric oxide sources. These embrace some nuts, seeds, and spirulina.

Consuming foods rich in nitrates is one other solution to enhance nitric oxide naturally. Many greens and a few fruits comprise nitrates together with leafy greens, root greens, and strawberries. 

You can too get pure nitric oxide from consuming meals that stimulate nitric oxide synthase like garlic, cocoa, and a few animal proteins. Vitamin C-rich fruits may assist to protect nitric oxide ranges.

Learn on to get into the main points of that are one of the best meals for nitric oxide manufacturing.

Nitric Oxide Dietary supplements

Since nitric oxide is gasoline, you may’t take a literal nitric oxide complement — although they may help bolster your ranges. Look for supplements that embrace the precursors to nitric oxide together with L-citrulline, L-arginine, and nitrates

It’s attainable to get all-natural sources of nitric oxide by way of your eating regimen. If you’re traveling and restricted along with your meals choices, dietary supplements could be one of the simplest ways to spice up nitric oxide on the go.

Advantages of Nitric Oxide

Nitric oxide has a direct affect on blood circulation, and this has led scientists to review its potential well being advantages. Since blood circulation is essential to power coaching and muscle building, athletes might profit from nitric oxide. 

Blood circulation has an essential affect in your well being outdoors of train, too, and research present it could enhance cardiovascular and brain health. Let’s take a deeper dive into the advantages of accelerating nitric oxide in your physique. 

Could Increase Athletic Efficiency

Wholesome blood circulation is vital to train, muscle operate, and hypertrophy. Nitric oxide has been discovered to chill out and dilate vascular clean muscle. (5) Some research have prompt that by boosting nitric oxide, by way of this leisure, you could possibly enhance your muscle efficiency and strength adaptations. (5

Growing your blood circulation by way of nitric oxide might assist enhance your athletic performance. Vasodilation may help ship oxygen and vitamins to your muscle mass whereas coaching, which may improve their contraction. (5)

A person working out using a barbell.
Credit score: Bojan Milinkov / Shutterstock

This will likely additionally assist to replenish ATP, or adenosine triphosphate, the power forex of the cell. (6) ATP helps muscle mass contract and offers two to a few seconds of power for very intense short-duration exercise, like sprinting or a one-rep max. The idea is that with extra nitric oxide, there may be extra blood circulation, and ATP can replenish extra rapidly. (5)

Enhanced blood circulation may also enable for more training volume and a lower in fatigue. (5) These little modifications in your session can add as much as long-term positive factors and muscle variations to coaching over time. 

A research was finished on citrulline malate — a complement containing L-citrulline — previous to power coaching in teams of each skilled and untrained cisgender men and women. The outcomes confirmed a small impact on the group who took the complement versus those that took a placebo. It prompt that L-citrulline might assist to delay fatigue and improve muscular endurance. (7)

L-citrulline is a precursor to L-arginine, which is a direct precursor to nitric oxide manufacturing. This specific research was finished on a complement containing L-citrulline. It’s attainable that consuming meals with this amino acid may improve nitric oxide and assist you to out in your coaching.

Could Enhance Train Restoration

Consuming nitric oxide-rich meals might assist to improve exercise recovery. With higher blood circulation throughout and after your session, nitric oxide might assist to decrease muscle soreness.

One potential reason for muscle soreness is a build-up of lactic acid after train. One research investigated ranges of lactic acid in eight cisgender male athletes earlier than and after coaching, whereas taking a complement with nitric oxide precursor elements. (8) The research discovered that restoration was improved by rushing up lactate excretion from the athletes’ our bodies after train. (8

A person with back pain at the gym.
Credit score: Albina Gavrilovic / Shutterstock

Consuming nitric oxide-boosting meals, along with different restoration methods, might assist decrease soreness in between sessions so you will get again to the health club stronger and well-rested.

Could Increase Coronary heart Well being

One main advantage of nitric oxide, for athletes and non-athletes alike, is the flexibility to decrease your blood strain. Nitric oxide has been discovered to play a key position within the safety towards cardiovascular ailments. (9)

Vasodilation can scale back systolic blood pressure and assist ship oxygen and vitamins by way of your bloodstream. (10) Not everybody must decrease their blood strain, however of us with hypertension might profit from consuming meals that improve nitric oxide.

Research on a eating regimen wealthy in nitrates — one of many precursors to nitric oxide — present enhancements in blood strain and artery well being. (11) Wholesome nitrates are present in greens, and eating leafy green vegetables is among the greatest pure sources of nitric oxide.

Could Increase Mind Well being

Consuming meals that enhance nitric oxide may enhance your brain health by serving to the blood circulation to your mind. Except for its athletic advantages, nitric oxide can be a neurotransmitter within the mind and will assist to enhance cognition. (4)

For instance, nitric oxide might assist activate the mind’s capability for computation. Particularly, L-arginine — a precursor to nitric oxide — might assist with this, suggesting that it could be useful in treating degenerative ailments like Alzheimer’s. (4)

Consuming meals excessive in L-arginine, like nuts and seeds, is likely to be one solution to improve nitric oxide and assist shield your mind.

Finest Nitric Oxide Meals

With the numerous well being and athletic advantages that come from nitric oxide, you might be questioning the best way to increase nitric oxide ranges in your physique. Nitric oxide is shaped from L-citrulline, L-arginine, and nitrates. 

Different substances like CoQ10, an essential substance in your physique that produces power and acts as an antioxidant, and different antioxidants have additionally been discovered to stimulate nitric oxide synthesis and shield nitric oxide already current in your physique. (12)

Watermelon, beetroot, and other vegetables.
Credit score: VeMa / Shutterstock

Consuming a eating regimen wealthy in these sources of nitric oxide may help you reap the advantages of this essential gasoline. Since it’s an endogenously produced gasoline, keep in mind that there aren’t technically meals containing nitric oxide. However you may eat meals to extend nitric oxide by getting loads of uncooked greens, fruits, nuts, seeds, and different healthy sources in your diet.

What vegatables and fruits are excessive in nitric oxide producing sources? And which meals excessive in nitric oxide precursors ought to you’ve earlier than your subsequent exercise? Let’s dive a bit of deeper into the precise dietary particulars.


Watermelon, except for being a scrumptious fruit, incorporates L-citrulline. L-citrulline will increase the provision of L-arginine, which then results in nitric oxide synthesis. (13

Watermelon slices and one whole watermelon on a table.
Credit score: Africa Studio / Shutterstock

Watermelon is the primary meals supply of L-citrulline and is one of the simplest ways to extend nitric oxide bioavailability by ingesting L-citrulline with no complement. (13

Watermelon can be an awesome supply of vitamins A and C. A 100-gram serving of watermelon incorporates 0.61 grams of protein, 0.15 grams of fats, and seven.55 grams of carbohydrates. (14)


Walnuts comprise L-arginine. These are one of many highest nitric oxide-boosting meals containing this precursor. (15)

Open and unopened walnuts.
Credit score: Krasula / Shutterstock

Walnuts are additionally an awesome supply of wholesome fat. One 28-gram serving of walnuts has 4.3 grams of protein, 18.5 grams of fats, and three.8 grams of carbohydrates. (16

Chia Seeds

Chia seeds comprise excessive ranges of L-arginine and have been proven to assist chill out blood vessels, attributable to L-arginine’s affect on creating nitric oxide. (17)

Chia seeds in a wooden bowl.
Credit score: New Africa / Shutterstock

Chia seeds are a great source of fiber, antioxidants, and omega-3s. A 28-gram serving of chia seeds incorporates 4.68 grams of protein, 8.7 grams of fats, and 11.9 grams of carbohydrates. (18)


Beetroot is wealthy in dietary nitrates, the following precursor to nitrate oxide synthesis. (19) It’s top-of-the-line nitric oxide-boosting meals containing nitrates and different vitamins and could be consumed uncooked or in its pure juice kind.

Beets on table top.
Credit score: Anna_Pustynnikova / Shutterstock

Beets comprise main vitamins and minerals and are an awesome supply of folate as effectively. A 100-gram serving of beets incorporates 1.68 grams of protein, 0.18 grams of fats, and 9.96 grams of carbohydrates. (20

Leafy Inexperienced Greens

Darkish leafy inexperienced greens together with kale and spinach are all nice sources of nitrates. These are a number of the greatest greens excessive in nitric oxide-boosting elements and have many different health benefits as effectively. (21)

Kale is wealthy in vitamin C, vitamin K, and antioxidants. A 100-gram serving of kale incorporates 2.92 grams of protein, 1.49 grams of fats, and 4.42 grams of carbohydrates. (22)

Spinach leaves on a table top
Credit score: Iakovleva Daria / Shutterstock

Spinach is a good supply of fiber, iron, and vitamin A. One 100-gram serving of spinach has 2.86 grams of protein, 0.39 grams of fats, and three.63 grams of carbohydrates. (23)

Different leafy inexperienced greens together with arugula, Swiss chard, bok choy, and mustard greens are additionally nutrient-dense sources of nitrates. These are nice meals to advertise nitric oxide synthesis. (21)

Broccoli, Cauliflower, Carrots

Broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots are just a few extra nitrate-rich greens. These greens are wholesome nitric oxide sources, and comprise many other vitamins and minerals as effectively. (19)

Broccoli is excessive in antioxidants and fiber. One 100-gram serving of broccoli offers 2.57 grams of protein, 0.34 grams of fats, and 6.27 grams of carbohydrates. (24)

A dish with broccoli, cauliflower and carrots.
Credit score: Brent Hofacker / Shutterstock

Cauliflower is one other nice supply of fiber and antioxidants. Its low calorie and filling content material makes it a well-liked meals in recipes useful for fat loss. One 100-gram serving of cauliflower has 1.92 grams of protein, 0.28 grams of fats, and 4.97 grams of carbohydrates. (25)

Carrots comprise beta-carotene and may help enhance your eye well being. A 100-gram serving of uncooked carrots incorporates 0.93 grams of protein, 0.24 grams of fats, and 9.58 grams of carbohydrates. (26)

Meat, Poultry, Seafood

Meat, poultry, and seafood all comprise CoQ10. It’s not particularly a precursor to nitric oxide, however CoQ10 has been discovered to decrease blood strain, probably by preserving nitric oxide. (12)

Meat, Poultry, Seafood on a chopping block.
Credit score: Mironov Vladimir / Shutterstock

CoQ10 has different well being advantages as effectively. In case you are consuming different meals as methods to naturally improve nitric oxide, you might need to embrace CoQ10 sources as a manner to assist protect it.


Garlic, along with being a tasty and aromatic addition to your meals, has therapeutic results. It’s been discovered to extend nitric oxide synthase exercise. (27

Garlic heads and cloves in a wooden dish, on a wooden chopping board.
Credit score: gresei / Shutterstock

Fermented garlic extract might enhance vascular operate by growing nitric oxide bioavailability. (28) Whereas garlic doesn’t instantly trigger nitric oxide manufacturing like its precursors, it nonetheless contributes to its manufacturing. Cooking with garlic could be an effective way to spice up nitric oxide in meals.


Cocoa, present in dark chocolate, is wealthy in flavonols. Flavonols have been discovered to induce vasodilation by boosting nitric oxide. (29) Cocoa can be wealthy in antioxidants and may help protect nitric oxide ranges. 

Much like garlic, cocoa doesn’t instantly produce nitric oxide. But it surely contributes to improved vasodilation, which is boosted by nitric oxide, and a hyperlink between the 2 has been prompt in research. (29)

Cocoa seeds and powder
Credit score: montira areepongthum / Shutterstock

Whereas it might not be one of the best supply of nitric oxide, having some darkish chocolate for dessert has well being advantages together with a wholesome blood circulation.

How A lot Nitric Oxide Do You Want?

There’s not at present a advisable quantity of nitric oxide that you simply want per day. Since it’s a gasoline naturally produced in your physique, it’s troublesome to measure, and never attainable to take instantly. 

In case you are consuming meals with nitric oxide precursors, you might need to contemplate totally different sources for various health targets. Whilst you can’t purpose for a certain amount of it, you may embrace these nitric oxide sources to hit your nutrient intake goals when fueling up pre and post-workout

Nitric Oxide for Energy

Since nitric oxide helps with ATP manufacturing, you might need to embrace a nitric oxide precursor in your pre-workout earlier than a powerlifting session. A supply of L-citrulline, like watermelon juice, is usually utilized in pre-workout. (30)

Nitric Oxide for Muscle Progress

In case your purpose is hypertrophy, the nitric oxide precursor L-arginine could also be useful since it’s a muscle-building amino acid. Selecting a pure supply of L-arginine, like walnuts, could also be useful in a post-workout snack. (15)

Nitric Oxide for Endurance

When you’re searching for drinks that may instantly enhance nitric oxide, you might need to strive beetroot powder or juice as a part of your pre-workout nourishment. Beetroot incorporates nitrates, which have been proven to doubtlessly enhance muscular efficiency and blood flow, in addition to improve time spent coaching earlier than fatigue. (5)

Nitric Oxide for Restoration

Nitric oxide has been proven to doubtlessly decrease muscle soreness by rushing up lactate excretion after resistance coaching. (8) If you’re hitting your common macros in your health purpose, selecting so as to add meals wealthy in nitric oxide sources may help you enhance your ranges. 

A muscular person good looking happy while working out.
Credit score: NDAB Creativity / Shutterstock

When you love a protein shake after your exercise, examine that the protein powder you employ contains L-arginine — if it’s an entire protein supply, it probably will. You possibly can enhance your nitric oxide for restoration by following your common consumption of protein.

Eat Your Greens

Fancy a beet and watermelon juice within the morning? It’s not only for an island vacation, however an everyday day on the health club. Nitric oxide has develop into well-liked in health tradition for its potential advantages on athletic efficiency and cardiovascular well being. 

Whereas there are supplements you can take with precursors L-citrulline, L-arginine, and nitrates, there are many meals you might already be consuming that contribute. 

Whether or not it’s including leafy greens to your post-workout shake, boosting your CoQ10 ranges when consuming hen for dinner, or ending off the evening with some flavonoid-rich darkish chocolate, you might already be getting a very good quantity of nitric oxide in meals out of your common eating regimen. When you’re not, merely crack open some walnuts, and develop into a nitric oxide pure.


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