Nitric Oxide: The Magic Molecule

Did you know that Nitric Oxide is a hidden hero for your health? Bit it sometimes feels as if nobody is talking about this critical chemical compound in your body. It has a direct relationship with the health of your blood vessels!

You might be asking yourself why we’re talking about this mystery compound in your body. Check out these ways Nitric Oxide can help your health.

Ways Nitric Oxide Can Help Your Health

What is Nitric Oxide?

Nitric oxide (NO) keeps the insides of your blood vessels supple and smooth. NO is a chemical compound naturally found in your body that is released by the cells in your arteries. It signals muscle fibers in your cell walls to relax and allow more blood to flow.

When your body is producing more NO, the inner lining of your blood vessels will be smooth like Teflon instead of rough like Velcro. This will allow for proper blood flow and better overall health.

Does Nitric Oxide Ever Decrease?

Unfortunately NO decreases as we age. Did you know that by the time you are fifty your bodies can be producing 50 percent less nitric oxide than when you were twenty-five?

That is a drastic difference and explains why blood flow and overall health start to decline. A decrease in NO can lead to atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, and other risk factors for heart disease. If you are working on your heart health, NO is one thing you must keep at the forefront of your focus.

Pro Tip: - You do not need to wait until you are fifty to start addressing this nitric oxide decrease. Start changing your habits today to combat Nitric Oxide decline through healthy eating choices!

So How Do You Fix a Nitric Oxide Deficiency?

Leafy greens are your new best friend! While an NO deficiency can seem concerning, there is a simple fix. You can make up for that lost 50 percent by chewing your leafy greens. Chewing greens will help to absorb the natural nitrates that reside in leafy greens.

Some of the best greens to consider are kale, swiss chard, spinach, arugula, beet greens, mustard greens, Napa cabbage, brussel sprouts, and beets.

When you chew these greens, the bacteria residing in the crevices and grooves of your tongue combine with the nitrates in the leafy greens and reduce them to chemicals called nitrites.

After you have chewed and created this reaction, you will swallow these nitrites and the gastric acid in your stomach further reduces them to Nitric Oxide. This Nitric Oxide naturally helps relieve pressure on your arteries.

Can’t You Just Drink Green Smoothies?

Unfortunately drinking your food isn’t the same as eating it. When many people hear of the heart benefits of leafy greens, their first thought is a green smoothie. After all, we’re busy people and want to get our greens in on the go.

The problem comes when you drink green smoothies and green juices, you are bypassing the system of chewing and creating this Nitric Oxide the way it was meant to be done. So when you are drinking your greens in this way, you are not getting the full benefits of those greens. Switching the way you consume green leafy vegetables can have a lasting impact on your health. This is why we want you to eat leafy vegetables as often as possible.

Pro Tip - If you are fighting back against heart disease we want you to consume six fist-sized servings of leafy greens every single day.

How Do You Add Leafy Greens to Your Daily Routine?

You are probably reading this and thinking of all the ways you can try to add leafy greens to your daily routine. You don’t have to sit down with a bag of spinach each day like you would a bag of chips though.

There are some simple ways to add leafy greens to your daily routine naturally. Even better, they can be a delicious addition to your favorite mealtime traditions. Here are a few ideas to consider:

  • Switch out your lettuce - Do you top a sandwich with lettuce? Many varieties of lettuce add a nice crunch to the sandwich but don’t do much more. Instead, try adding fresh spinach to your next sandwich or wrap. The added health benefits are worth it and you might find that it adds a flavor profile you didn’t know you needed! You can also use leafy greens as a wrap instead of bread!
  • Don’t underestimate the benefits of a great salad! - Salads are often overlooked when menu planning but a flavor-packed salad can work as a whole meal or even as a perfect pairing to your favorite lunch. Even better, you can add a variety of leafy greens and get your daily requirements met in a delicious way! Try out some of the summer salad recipes shared on the Plantstrong blog for ideas for your next salad.
  • Add them to your favorite soup or stew - Adding greens to your favorite soup or stew at the end of cooking will let them preserve their flavor while adding something new to your favorite soup! Have fun trying different types of leafy greens in your favorite soups and stews to get a variety of flavor profiles. You might find your new favorite soup by trying these flavor combinations.
  • Reinvent an old favorite - Did you know that pizza doesn’t have to look like it used to? You can make a variety of pizzas by switching up your toppings. Did you know that adding spinach, kale, or arugula to the top of your pizza can pack a punch of flavor while helping you to increase your Nitric Oxide levels in your body? Talk about a great way to enjoy eating for your health!

Learn More about Nitric Oxide:
For more information on nitric oxide and how it affects the body’s ability to ward off heart disease, listen to this podcast episode when Rip interviews Dr. Nathan Bryan, a long-time Nitric Oxide researcher and author of The Nitric Oxide Solution.

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