It might not sound like the most common juice, but most restaurants that sling takeaway juice mixtures considerate it a staple.
Researchers for the first time have shown that drinking beet juice could increase blood flow to the brain in older adults. This finding could hold great potential for combating the progression of dementia.
The study is available online at the journal “Nitric Oxide: Biology and Chemistry.”
Many high-profile studies have shown that drinking beet juice could lower blood pressure. The new study wanted to see if beet juice could increase “perfusion” — or, blood flow to the brain. There are areas in the brain that start to receive decreased volume over time, which is thought to be linked to dementia and poor mental performance.
High levels of nitrates are found in beets, as well as in celery, cabbage and other leafy green vegetables, like spinach and some lettuce. When you eat high-nitrate foods, good bacteria in the mouth turn nitrate into nitrite. Research has found that nitrites can help open up the blood vessels in the body, increasing blood flow and oxygen specifically to places that are lacking oxygen.
In the new study, researchers looked at how dietary nitrates affected 14 adults, aged 70 and older, over just four days. Could such a short period of time make a difference?
On the first day, subjects did a 10-hour fast, completed a health status report, and then consumed either a high- or low-nitrate breakfast. The high-nitrate breakfast included 16 ounces of beet juice. Afterward, they went home with lunch, dinner and snacks conforming to their assigned diets.
The next day, after another fast, subjects ate their assigned breakfasts. One hour after breakfast, researchers measured the blood flow in each subject’s brain. Blood tests before and after breakfast confirmed nitrite levels in the body.
For the third and fourth days of the study, the researchers switched the diets and repeated the process for each subject.
After eating a high-nitrate diet, older adults had increased blood flow to the white matter of the frontal lobes. These areas are commonly linked with the degeneration that leads to dementia and other cognitive conditions.
These are encouraging results, showing that a diet with a lot of fruits and vegetables could lead to excellent health. For beet juice, to reduce its possibly bitter taste (though it isn’t too bad), you can mix in sweeter vegetables and fruit. Buying a juicer will go a long way to long-term health.