Foods that boost nitric oxide production in your body


Medically Reviewed by ,
March 8, 2024

How to Improve Nitric Oxide Production

Many people may have this question – “Can we boost nitric oxide production in the body by eating certain foods?” or “How to boost nitric oxide levels naturally?”

The answer is yes, you can!

What are the foods that boost nitric oxide?

Before going into details, you should know the pathways by which nitric oxide is produced in the body.

There are two ways by which you will get nitric oxide in your body:

  1. One is the endogenous formation of nitric oxide (the main pathway) and the other is
  2. Through diet and the food, you eat (the alternative pathway for the formation of nitric oxide). It is also known as the nitrate-nitrite-nitric oxide pathway.

In this pathway, your oral hygiene and healthy natural microbiome of your mouth and tongue play a crucial role. For this reason, you should keep your mouth clean by adopting routine oral hygiene practices.

foods that boost nitric oxide

Oral Microbes Play a Vital Role in Nitric Oxide Formation

Approximately 20% of dietary nitrate is converted to nitrite, which is further converted to nitric oxide by the commensal bacteria in the oral cavity – particularly the ones that live on the tongue.

If you use any antimicrobial mouthwash after consuming nitrate-rich foods that boost nitric oxide, then you will kill the beneficial bacteria that are responsible for nitrite and nitric oxide formation [4].

Why Do You Need Dietary Nitrates?

In conditions such as kidney disease, hypoxia, ischemia, and cardiovascular, and metabolic diseases, the production of nitric oxide can be boosted through diet because the main pathway of the nitric oxide synthase system is compromised.

The human body has a pool of nitrate ions – dietary nitrate is the major contributor to this pool of inorganic nitrate. For instance, beetroot and leafy green vegetables contain huge amounts of inorganic nitrate (No3).

For the conversion of this nitrate to nitrite and eventually to nitric oxide in the stomach, commensal oral bacteria play a crucial role.

According to a study published in ‘Free Radical Biology and Medicine’ inorganic dietary nitrate is a possible source for the systemic production of nitric oxide [3]. The study reports an increase in the levels of nitrite for a sustained period. Therefore, this study shows that dietary nitrate can impact (augment) plasma levels of nitrate, nitrite, and nitric oxide.

Here you can learn more about “nitric oxide synthesis in the body”.

Some of the foods that boost nitric oxide levels in your body include:



Beetroot is rich in nitrates – which your body turns into nitric oxide. Owing to their very high nitrate content, beetroot consumption has been linked to several health benefits – such as improved exercise and athletic performance, cardiovascular function, cognitive function, and lower blood pressure levels. It is one of the best foods to boost nitric oxide.



Nitric oxide synthase enzyme converts the amino acid L-arginine to nitric oxide. Garlic activates this enzyme and improves the levels of nitric oxide in the body [1]. Garlic’s ability to increase nitric oxide production has immense health benefits ranging from lowering blood pressure to improving exercise performance and tolerance.

Leafy greens

Leafy greens

Leafy green vegetables such as spinach and Kale have copious amounts of nitrates – which your body stores and converts into nitric oxide. Particularly spinach has very impressive nitrate content.

Carrots contain a healthy nitrate content. They are good dietary sources of nitrate, but their nitrate content is lower than leafy green vegetables.

Citrus fruits

Citrus fruits

These fruits are rich in vitamin C – which plays a crucial role in improving the levels of the enzymes necessary for nitric oxide formation. Lemons, organs, and limes belong to the citrus fruits category. Their use can improve nitric oxide production in the body. Vitamin C in citrus fruits improves the bioavailability of nitric oxide and maximizes its absorption in cells and tissues.



According to a study published in a medical journal, watermelon juice helped in improving nitric oxide levels and making it bioavailable [2].

Nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds play a very crucial role in augmenting nitric oxide levels by ensuring increased production of nitric oxide. Both nuts and seeds are rich in L-arginine and L-citrulline – the main amino acids that are the precursors of nitric oxide in the body. Nuts: the natural sources of arginine include peanuts, walnuts, Brazil nuts, Cashew nuts, almonds, Hazelnuts, and pecans.

Seeds: Pumpkin seeds have the highest content of arginine. Watermelon seeds, sesame, and sunflower seeds are the other seeds rich in arginine.

Watermelon, watermelon seeds, and pumpkin seeds are rich in Citrulline. The other sources of citrulline include casaba melon, cucumbers, bitter melon, mouse melon, and horned melon.



It is a good natural source of all the amino acids your body needs. White meat is rich in protein and low in fats. It has rich arginine content. Turkey breast has the highest arginine content. Chicken breast, cooked meat, and beef are the other rich sources of arginine.

Bottom Line

Nitric oxide is an amazing supermolecule with immense health benefits. It impacts many aspects of health. If you want to live healthy and fit, avert chronic health conditions, and delay or reverse aging, you must ensure that your diet is rich in the ingredients that provide nitric oxide to your body. To boost nitric oxide production, start eating the foods that boost nitric oxide and help in providing optimal levels of this miraculous supermolecule in the body. Rather than switching to supplementation, make necessary changes to your dietary habits and preferences. This is the best and the most effective natural way to boost nitric oxide production and levels in the body.

Take action now! Start making changes in your lifestyle to live a very long and healthy life. The first step is making changes in your dietary habits


  1. Baik JS, Min JH, Ju SM, Ahn JH, Ko SH, Chon HS, Kim MS, Shin YI. Effects of Fermented Garlic Extract Containing Nitric Oxide Metabolites on Blood Flow in Healthy Participants: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Nutrients. 2022 Dec 8;14(24):5238. doi: 10.3390/nu14245238. PMID: 36558397; PMCID: PMC9781726. (,fermentation%20of%20foods%20like%20garlic.)
  2. Bailey SJ, Blackwell JR, Williams E, Vanhatalo A, Wylie LJ, Winyard PG, Jones AM. Two weeks of watermelon juice supplementation improves nitric oxide bioavailability but not endurance exercise performance in humans. Nitric Oxide. 2016 Sep 30;59:10-20. doi: 10.1016/j.niox.2016.06.008. Epub 2016 Jul 1. PMID: 27378312.
  3. Jon O Lundberg *, Mirco Govoni † Inorganic nitrate is a possible source for the systemic generation of nitric oxide Free Radical Biology and Medicine; Volume 37, Issue 3, 1 August 2004, Pages 395-400
  4. Norman G Hord 1, Yaoping Tang 1, Nathan S Bryan “Food sources of nitrates and nitrites: the physiologic context for potential health benefits” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition Volume 90, Issue 1, July 2009, Pages 1-10 Food sources of nitrates and nitrites: the physiologic context for potential health benefits – ScienceDirect

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