It cuts the risk of high blood pressure in half, slashes the odds of heart attack by 75 percent and protects against viruses including Covid. What is it? Nitric oxide, a natural substance made in the body that’s so vital, researchers call it “the miracle molecule.” In fact, scientists are investigating its ability to speed Covid recovery. And though 80 percent of women over 40 are deficient in nitric oxide, boosting levels is easy!
Sneak in Some Greens
Adding a handful of spinach, arugula, or kale into a fruit smoothie optimizes nitric oxide (NO) production without affecting flavor. That’s because green veggies brim with natural nitrates that are converted into NO by the body. Proof: Australian researchers found that nitric oxide levels were 160 percent higher in folks who ate nitrate-rich greens regularly than those who didn’t.
Treat Yourself to a Swim
Fun activities like swimming, walking, and biking increase blood flow through the arteries, stimulating NO production to raise levels by 118 percent, Brazilian investigators say. And being active outdoors provides an additional boost: Australian researchers say sun exposure spurs skin cells to release nitric oxide.
Indulge in Dark Chocolate
Enjoy an ounce of dark chocolate daily, and you’ll up your nitric oxide levels by 300 percent in 15 days. So say experts from the University of Indonesia, who explain that polyphenols found in the confection enhance activity of enzymes that are crucial for nitric oxide formation. Tip: Try sprinkling coarsely chopped dark chocolate over pudding, yogurt or even iced coffee. Yum!
Hum a Happy Tune
Nitric oxide is produced in nasal passages, which is why Nobel Prize–winning NO researcher Louis Ignarro, PhD, advises inhaling through your nose as much as possible. Also smart: Hum on your exhale a few times daily, then take a deep breath in. In a Swedish study, vibrations produced by humming upped NO production 1,500 percent.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.