You have probably heard a lot about the importance of eating your veggies, especially the dark leafy ones, but do you actually know why? According to One Green Planet, dark leafy green vegetables are rich in important nutrients, including minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants.
What’s more, they are also a crucial source of naturally-occurring nitrates. When consumed, nitrates are transformed into nitric oxide and do wonders for our health. If you want to learn more about dark leafy greens and nitric oxide, make sure you continue reading the article!
Nitric Oxide Explained
As explained on One Green Planet, long before nitric oxide was discovered in the human body, scientists were already aware of its potent healing elements. Namely, back in 1880, there was a drug known as Nitroglycerine which worked on the nitric oxide pathways.
Later on, it was found that nitric oxide is actually a molecule that is created by almost every cell in the body and that it is pivotal for the health of the blood vessels. It functions as a vasodilator, i.e. it helps blood vessels to widen and the muscles to relax and blood flow to improve. It can also be of great aid in decreasing the blood pressure as well.
Although there are nitric oxide supplements available, you can also elevate the nitric oxide through your diet. You just need to eat dark leafy green veggies which are abundant in nitrates.
The Link between Nitric Oxide & Greens
As noted on One Green Planet, there are 3 ways that nitric oxide can be generated within the body. First, you need to get sufficient sunshine, second, you need an enzyme called nitric oxide synthase, and last but not least, you need to boost your diet with nitrates.
Almost 80 percent of dietary nitrate comes from veggies such as kale, lettuce, spinach, and rainbow chard, arugula, lettuce, etc. When consumed raw, the production of nitric oxide will elevate significantly whereas cooking is known to lower the rate of production. When you eat fresh, raw spinach salad for example, the nitrates are converted to nitrites by the bacteria in the saliva and then swallowed. The nitrite then encourages the production of nitric oxide in the blood vessels, tissues, and stomach and activates the health advantages.
The Health Benefits of Nitric Oxide
- Betters the cardiovascular health
Nitric oxide can decrease the blood pressure, better the blood and oxygen flow, avert blockages, and alleviate stiff arteries and thus, minimize the risk of heart illness.
- Strengthens the immunity
Nitric oxide works as a defensive molecule which fights off infections. Also, it will manage the growth, death, and activity of inflammatory and immune cells.
- Betters athletic performance
Since it betters the blood flow, nitric oxide supplies the muscles with additional oxygen for exercise and it boosts the stamina and longevity. So, it makes a great pre-workout supplement.
- Helps with sleep
If you have been struggling with insomnia or restless sleep, opt for nitric oxide because it participates in the REM phase of sleep. This phase is crucial because it encourages the elimination of neurotoxins, helps you wake up refreshed, and assists in the learning of new information.