Saturday, November 06, 2010


Beet juice improves brain health in seniors
November 04, 2010

Beet juice has now been shown to improve blood flow to the brain in older adults, due partly to its high concentration of nitrates.

When high-nitrate foods are consumed, bacteria in a person's mouth turn nitrates into nitrites. Nitrites then help blood vessels open up, which promotes perfusion, or blood flow. Blood flow to the brain is important for older adults since research shows that as one ages, perfusion to certain areas of the brain is linked to problems such as cognition and dementia.

Researchers at Wake Forest University's Translational Science Center studied a group of 14 older adults who consumed a high-nitrate diet for four days. MRI scans showed that after consuming the high-nitrate diet, blood flow to the white matter of the frontal lobes increased in these patients. This area of the brain is linked to the kind of degeneration associated with dementia and cognitive problems, Medical News Today reported. Results of this study will be published in the peer-reviewed journal Nitric Oxide: Biology and Chemistry.

Daniel Kim-Shapiro, a physics professor and the director of Wake’s Translational Science Center, said that the findings open the way for more research on whether beet juice can slow the progression of dementia.

News of the research has been greeted with cautious optimism by people who study dementia, Kim-Shapiro said.

“People do think, ‘Oh yeah, this is really interesting. It seems theoretically it could work.’ But like so many other things, we won’t know until we do more research,” he said.

Beets, as well as spinach, celery and other leafy greens, are packed with nitrates. Once eaten, these nitrates circulate through the body and wind up in the salivary glands where they are eventually converted into nitric oxide, which has been shown to open up blood vessels and increase blood flow, particularly in areas of the body that need more oxygen.

For the study, 14 people with an average age of 70 followed a prescribed diet that included 16 ounces of beet juice. Some days, they ate a diet high in nitrates, while other days they ate a low-nitrate diet.

Magnetic-resonance images showed that the high-nitrate diet produced an increased blood flow to an area of the brain that is often linked with degeneration that leads to dementia.

1 comment:

Always On Watch said...

Great tip!

Can one buy beet juice in a grocery store?