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Ask the Expert Archive

What are the Benefits of Nitric Oxide in Fruits and Vegetables?

 

Q. Hi! My name is Rob and I am currently trying to eat healthier and found that Arugula lettuce has nitrates that produce nitric oxide. I have high blood pressure and read this nitric oxide will help lower my blood pressure naturally. This is very exciting but I have also heard that nitrates in processed meat cause different cancers. I truly want to eat the Arugula lettuce but I am afraid of cancer. Are the nitrates in the lettuce harmful? Thank you so very much for your time,Rob Sanders
 
A. You heard correctly. Green leafy vegetables, including arugula, are rich sources of nitrates that convert to nitric oxide (NO) when consumed.  NO is a potent vasodilator that may lower blood pressure, promote eye health, and enhance sport performance.
 
For more information about dietary nitrates and nitrites, check out this article.
 
The primary source of dietary nitrates comes from the naturally occurring sources in fruits, vegetables, and water. So to reap the health benefits of nitric oxide, eat your green, leafy vegetables!  Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables at each meal or eating occasion to meet your daily recommendation of fruits and vegetables.  Keep in mind all forms matter,  fresh, frozen, canned, dried, and 100% juice.   

  

 

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The Expert: Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, MS, RDN, is the President and CEO of the Produce for Better Health (PBH) Foundation. At PBH, she guides the Foundation’s efforts to advance the overall effort of increasing fruit and vegetable consumption.
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