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Brain-Boosting Beet Juice
March 2011
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Move Over, Blueberries

BeetJuiceWhen it comes to brain-boosting nutrition, blueberries now have some serious competition. For the first time, researchers have shown that drinking beet juice can increase blood flow to the brain in older adults—a finding that could hold potential for combating the progression of dementia.

“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,” says Daniel Kim-Shapiro, director of Wake Forest University’s Translational Science Center’s initiatives for fostering independence in aging. “There are areas in the brain that become poorly perfused as you age,” he notes, “and that’s believed to be associated with dementia and poor cognition.”

Beet juice, the researchers explain, contains high concentrations of nitrates. When we eat nitrate-rich foods such as beets, celery, cabbage and spinach, good bacteria in the mouth turn nitrates to nitrites, which help open up blood vessels in the body, increasing blood flow and oxygen to the brain.