Nitric Oxide Benefits for the Heart
By: Lou Ignarro, Ph.D., Nobel* Laureate in Medicine, Member, Herbalife Nutrition Advisory Board
Balanced nutrition, regular exercise and keeping a healthy weight – that is common advice when it comes to heart health.
But there’s actually another factor that too many of us know nothing about – and that all of us rely on whether we realize it or not: our body’s production of nitric oxide.
What is Nitric Oxide?
It’s been called a “miracle molecule,” yet few know what it is, what it does, or why it’s important. As someone who’s dedicated his career to studying this very topic, let me run through the basics.
Nitric oxide is what’s called a biological regulator. Cells in our arteries and veins produce them to help our 50 trillion cells communicate with each other.
Why Nitric Oxide Matters for Heart Health
These biological regulators protect our cardiovascular system against damage and aging. Their purpose is to maintain the health of our heart and blood vessels, and they mainly do so by maintaining arterial elasticity.
Arterial elasticity supports normal vasodilation, which improves the blood flow to all organs. Nitric oxide production supports healthy blood pressure levels already within a normal range and blood vessel elasticity.**
The amount of nitric oxide in the body begins to decrease as we get older. Therefore, it becomes necessary to boost its production.
High cholesterol levels, a lack of physical activity, obesity, and smoking are all causes of cardiovascular disease. Even a normal, healthy cardiovascular system can benefit from more attention and one thing you can do to support a cardiovascular system is to boost nitric oxide production.
A growing number of medical professionals are looking for answers to promoting good cardiovascular health in the endothelium, the thin lining of our arteries that produces nitric oxide.
When this layer of cells shrinks, our blood circulation decreases, and our arteries harden.
So how can you increase and sustain nitric oxide in your system?
Five Ways To Boost and Sustain Nitric Oxide
Here are few pointers and ideas to achieve and optimal nitric oxide levels:
1. Eat high-quality protein
Protein contains amino acids that promote the production of nitric oxide. Consider soy protein, since soy contains all 9 essential amino acids, and soy foods have low or no saturated fats.
2. Consume Vegetables High in Nitrates
Celery, lettuce, beetroot, spinach, and arugula have high levels of nitrates. When consumed, nitrates are converted into nitric oxide.
3. Take in Unsaturated Omega 3 Fatty Acids
You can find them in fresh fish of many kinds. They support vascular health by reducing inflammation throughout the body. Inflammation can affect blood vessels and lead to heart disease and strokes.
4. Use Nitric Oxide Supplements
These supplements don’t contain nitric oxide itself, but ingredients that help form nitric oxide in your body. Two of the most commonly used ingredients are amino acids such as L-arginine and L-citrulline.
L-arginine and L-citrulline support nitric oxide production and blood flow for the healthy function of the heart, brain and other organs. They also help keep blood vessels toned and flexible for healthy vascular function.**
Vitamins C and E, as well as alpha lipoic acid, also help to boost nitric oxide production.
5. Exercise Regularly
Your production of nitric oxide increases dramatically as you engage in physical exercise at any level, whether it is walking, running, cycling, swimming, or just climbing stairs.
Here’s the bottom line: nitric oxide is a vital molecule in your body and essential to your cardiovascular health. It is a component everyone needs, regardless of age or gender. So, build a healthy lifestyle that provides enough nitric oxide to help support a long, happy, heart-healthy life.