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Wednesday 20th June 2018

Beetroot juice good for brain

5th November 2010

Beetroot, a dark red vegetable already known for its health benefits, increases blood flow to the brain in older people, a new study has shown.


Researchers have concluded that drinking the juice may fight the progression of dementia.

The high concentrations of nitrates in beetroot are turned into nitrites by oral bacteria.

Nitrites are particularly effective at keeping blood vessels relaxed and open, allowed the circulation to flow more freely.

Overall, they are able to increase blood flow and oxygen to places lacking in oxygen.

The study is the first to show nitrites, which are found in celery, cabbage and other leafy vegetables, increase the amount of blood in the brain.

The research team, led by Daniel Kim-Shapiro of the Translational Science Center at Wake Forest University, set out to show that drinking beet juice also increases perfusion, or blood flow to the brain.

Some areas of the brain become poorly perfused as people age, and that process is believed to be associated with dementia and poor cognition.

The research, published in Nitric Oxide: Biology and Chemistry, the peer-reviewed journal of the Nitric Oxide Society, looked at how dietary nitrates affected 14 adults aged 70 and older over a four-day period.

Subjects completed a health status report and had a breakfast that was either high -- including 16 ounces of beet juice -- or low in nitrates on day one.

They were provided with carefully designed diets, before returning to the lab following a second 10-hour fast and special breakfasts.

Researchers scanned their brains using MRI imaging to track blood flow to their brains one hour after breakfast.

Nitrite levels in the body were also checked both before and after breakfast.

Subjects switched diets for the last two days of the study, and the whole process was repeated.

According to the MRI scans, older adults who ate the high-nitrate diet had increased blood flow to the frontal lobes, usually associated with cognitive degeneration seen in dementia.

Senior investigator Gary Miller said the results were encouraging and consistent.

The researchers said they would team up with a drinks manufacturer to produce a beetroot drink that would deliver the right amount of juice.

The team hopes that the results could lead to interventions that could improve cognitive and physical functional health in older adults.

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