Drinking beetroot juice can increase blood flow to the brain in older adults, potentially halting the progresses of dementia.
“There have been several 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.
“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,” Shapiro said.
High concentrations of nitrates are found in beets, as well as in celery, cabbage and other leafy green vegetables like spinach and lettuce, report the journal Nitric Oxide: Biology and Chemistry.
When you eat high-nitrate foods, ‘good bacteria’ in the mouth turn nitrate into nitrite, according to a Wake Forest statement.
Research has found that nitrites can help open up the blood vessels in the body, increasing blood and oxygen flow.
In the study, researchers looked at how dietary nitrates affected a group of adults aged 70 and above.
The MRIs showed that after eating a high-nitrate diet for four days, blood flow to the white matter of the frontal lobes increased. This area is commonly associated with degeneration that leads to dementia and other cognitive conditions.