Researchers for the first time have shown that drinking beet juice can increase blood flow to the brain in older adults – a finding that could hold great potential for combating the progression of dementia.
The research findings are available online in Nitric Oxide: Biology and Chemistry, the peer-reviewed journal of the Nitric Oxide Society and will be available in print soon. (Read the abstract.)
“There have been several very high-profile studies showing that drinking beet juice can lower blood pressure, but we wanted to show that drinking beet juice also increases perfusion, or blood flow, to the brain,” said Daniel Kim-Shapiro, director of Wake Forest University’s Translational Science Center; Fostering Independence in Aging. “There are areas in the brain that become poorly perfused as you age, and that’s believed to be associated with dementia and poor cognition.”
High concentrations 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.