Exercise, diet, healthy habits and a positive attitude are the golden keys to heart health. Thesprouted-nuts-seeds problem with these “golden keys” is that exercise requires discipline and time, diet requires an introduction to foods which do not have tasty fats and salt, and a positive attitude is difficult to maintain in this high stress world we live in. Therefore, we find ways to “cheat,” with supplements and medications. Some are good… Some are mostly safe… Some are approved by the Food and Drug Administration… Some do what they are supposed to do… But none are as safe and beneficial as the “golden keys.”

Recently, nitric oxide supplements have received tons of attention in the media. The best claim in support of taking nitric oxide, which metabolizes to l-arginine in your body, is the lowering of blood pressure.

I present two articles published in the Journal of the American Medical Association about nitric oxide to provide information about this particular supplement, and to help you shape your attitude about supplements in general.

The first article titled “L-arginine Therapy in Acute Myocardial Infarction” was published in 2006 and presents results of a study that involved giving nitric oxide supplements to patients who recently experienced a myocardial infarction, or heart attack. Half of the 104 patients in this study received a sugar pill, or placebo and the other half received nitric oxide. In the group that received the placebo, no improvement in blood pressure or heart function were noted. In the group the received nitric oxide, six patients died during the six-month study.  Therefore, Schulman and his colleagues conclude:

l-Arginine, when added to standard postinfarction therapies, does not improve vascular stiffness measurements or ejection fraction and may be associated with higher postinfarction mortality. l-Arginine should not be recommended following acute myocardial infarction.

The other study titled “Effects of Low Habitual Cocoa Intake on Blood Pressure and Bioactive Nitric Oxide” by Taubert et al., provides support that natural foods are far superior to supplements. Forty four adult participants were asked to eat small amounts (6.3 grams) of dark chocolate per day for 18 weeks. At the conclusion of the study, the systolic (the top number) blood pressure dropped by 3 points and the diastolic (the bottom number) blood pressure dropped by 2 points. Cocoa in dark chocolate increases the body’s natural source of nitric oxide, which contributes to the lowering of blood pressure. While the improvement is not drastic, including dark chocolate into your other plans for lifestyle change and health improvement is reasonable.Of course, you can’t eat too much dark chocolate because it is high in calories and fat. But, a little goes a long way.

So, to take or not to take? Well, in this case, chocolate is cheaper and taste better…

Picture: Nuts and Seeds are High in Nitric Oxide.


JAMA: L-arginine Therapy in Acute Myocardial Infarction

JAMA: Effects of Habitual Cocoa Intake on Blood Pressure and Bioactive Nitric Oxide