Nitric oxide – the natural anti-aging compound?

Oh, I like this one.  A new study says nitric oxide is not only good for cardiovascular health but can actually prolong life. As regular readers know, nitric oxide is one of my favorite blog topics.

Leaves and flower of Watermelon, Citrullus lan...
Leaves and flower of Watermelon, Citrullus lanatus, Citrullus vulgaris…Hoa và lá c?a dây d?a H?u … (Photo credit: Vietnam Plants & America plants)

A huge percentage of the Google News alerts I get about NO focus mainly on the hype among bodybuilders about taking NO to get bigger muscles and among aging males about taking it for better erections.

While NO can be helpful for those things (yes, it plays a big part in Viagra), this study seems to show that it actually contributes to longer life by signaling genes to go easy on the aging process. Granted the initial experiments were with roundworms, but hey, we gotta start somewhere.

The first question I had was, of course, what can we eat to improve our NO concentration? Here’s what the article says about the two substances that are needed to create NO:

L-Arginine is found in fish such as tuna, shrimp, scallops and anchovies. It can also be found in pine nuts, almonds, pistachios, oats and wheat germ. Citrulline can be found in vegetables called cucurbits, such as cucumbers and cantaloupe. Watermelon contains the highest level of natural Citrulline. Natural, whole food sources of both L- Arginine and Citrulline can also be found in some nutritional supplements.

And here’s a doctor’s simplified explanation of what things work together to facilitate production of NO in our bodies. Are you surprised that they all point toward fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and lean protein sources?

I’m game. Watermelon, anyone?

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