Wednesday November 7, 2018
What is Nitric Oxide?
Taking center stage in over 160,000 studies and claiming the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1998, nitric oxide (NO) is a chemical compound consisting of one nitrogen (N) atom and one oxygen (O) atom. Nitric oxide serves as a secondary neurotransmitter between the brain and nerve cells within the body. Nitric oxide also doubles as a vasodilator (widening of the artery walls) in the circulatory system.
Benefits of Nitric Oxide
- Lower blood pressure
- Healthy brain function
- Increased energy levels
- Improved athletic performance and recovery
- Nutrients received and absorbed into the body more efficiently
- Decreases oxidation rate in the body
How do I obtain nitric oxide?
Good news: The body produces nitric oxide naturally.
Bad news: Nitric oxide production declines as we age.
There are two ways the body generates nitric oxide. The easiest and best way to increase nitric oxide production is through a healthy nitrate-rich plant based eating plan. Foods entering the GI tract are naturally converted into nitric oxide during the digestion process. The second way is an enzyme known as nitric oxide synthase (NOS). Nitric oxide synthase synthesizes nitric oxide by combining oxygen with the amino acid L-arginine. More on this later.
Attain Nitric Oxide Naturally
Researcher Adam Moussa gave individuals garlic and 2000 mg vitamin C for 10 days.
At the conclusion of the study, the individuals’ nitric oxide production increased by 200%. Garlic itself does not contain many nitrites. Garlic does however boost nitric oxide synthase by converting L-arginine into nitric oxide in the presence of vitamins such as B2, B3 and vitamin C. Garlic also contains a compound called quercetin, which is a powerful natural anti-inflammatory.
Pomegranates contain polyphenols which assist the body in converting plant based nitrites into nitric oxide. These same polyphenols also block nitric oxide from converting back into nitrites. Pomegranates also inhibit a protein called monocyte chemoattractant. This can help reduce cardiovascular inflammation.
Did you know? Cranberries have similar benefits if pomegranates are not available in your local area.
Karin Reid from the University of Adelaide, Australia discovered dark chocolate can naturally lower blood pressure by increasing nitric oxide production in the body. This is because chocolate contains flavonols and polyphenols (natural antioxidants).
In addition, an article in the US National Library of Medicine suggests the flavonoids in raw cacao can help establish optimal nitric oxide levels in the body as heat can destroy naturally occurring beneficial compounds. If raw cacao is difficult to obtain, dark chocolate (70-80%) can be substituted.
Greens and Veggies
When it comes to leafy greens, arugula takes top spot with 480 mg of nitrates per 100 grams. Butter leaf lettuce comes in at 200 mg per 100 grams and spring greens 188 mg per 100 grams.
When choosing your greens, be sure to purchase organic. Learn why by clicking here. Other greens and veggies that are high in nitrates are spinach, beets, celery, fennel, leek, and parsley. These contain between 100-250 mg per 100 grams.
Oranges, lemons, and grapefruit contain high amounts of vitamin C.
Watermelon contains high amounts of L-citrulline, an amino acid which converts into L-arginine (another amino acid) ultimately producing nitric oxide.
L-arginine can be found in stores however the body does not absorb synthesized L-arginine well. When it comes to health organic raw food is always the best.
Did you know? Nuts (walnuts especially) contain high amounts of L-arginine.
Noni fruit contains 17 out of 20 amino acids including the 9 essential amino acids. As we have learned, noni fruit can stimulate the body's ability to produce nitric oxide by use of the amino acid L-arginine. This may help a person maintain blood pressure levels already within a normal range.
Getting the Most Benefits
According to Oregon State University Extension, you receive the most benefits by consuming nitrate-containing/producing fruits and vegetables raw, as cooking can destroy their ability to increase your nitric oxide production.
In two separate studies, Bushnell (1950) and Dittmar (1993) noted the importance of the degree of ripeness for fruit compounds to work optimally within the body. Their findings show that the highest properties are found in ripe raw noni fruit. The process used to produce powders and juice not only use fermented fruit but include freeze drying and boiling which destroy the beneficial compounds even further. On the other hand, obtaining a reputable source of fresh fruit is hard to come by and can be costly to the consumer.
Hawaiian Organic Noni has developed a way to produce a Noni Fruit Leather that uses the entire pulp of the fruit that is noni-fermented and dried below 115F thus preserving all the natural benefits the fruit has to offer. This makes Noni Fruit Leather a raw whole food. Noni Fruit Leather also has a 2 year shelf life and is more cost effective and higher quality than other noni products on the market. Research at an independent lab has shown Noni Fruit Leather to be 14 times more potent than Noni juice due to its use of non-fermented organic noni fruit pulp and a unique processing that maintains the potency of the raw pulp of Noni.
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