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The Importance of Healthy Bacteria in Nitric Oxide Production

nitric oxide foods

Story at-a-glance -

  • While your body produces nitric oxide (NO) inside your endothelial cells from the amino acid L-arginine, the most significant sources are dietary nitrates, which gut bacteria then convert into nitrite and then to NO, bypassing the classical L-arginine pathway
  • NO promotes healthy endothelial function and heart health by dilating your blood vessels, helps maintain physiological homeostasis, suppresses inflammation and promotes angiogenesis, the formation of new, healthy blood vessels
  • NO also protects your mitochondrial health, boosts immune function and has powerful antibacterial potential in and of itself. In vitro tests show it can kill most enteric pathogens within one hour
  • In the modern diet, nitrates can be found both in nitrate-rich plant foods and in processed meats. However, while nitrates from plant foods promote NO, processed meats trigger conversion of nitrates into carcinogenic N-nitroso compounds
  • Plant foods high in nitrates include arugula, rhubarb, cilantro, butter leaf lettuce, spring greens, basil, beet greens, oak leaf lettuce, Swiss chard and red beets, especially fermented beets

By Dr. Mercola

Nitric oxide (NO) is a soluble gas stored in the endothelium lining your blood vessels. NO has many exceptional health benefits, but there's a great deal of confusion about how it's produced in your body. While your body does produce NO naturally inside your endothelial cells from the amino acid L-arginine, the most significant source is actually dietary nitrates, found in fresh vegetables, which gut bacteria then convert into nitrite and then to NO, bypassing the classical L-arginine pathway.


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