The results of a new study published in the journal Nitric Oxide: Biology and Chemistry shows the impact of beetroot juice on brain health. Researchers already know that beetroot juice is beneficial to heart health as it effectively lowers blood pressure. A new study demonstrated the extract could be used as an agent to improve oxygen flow to the aging brain and to improve cognitive decline.
Nitrates in Beetroot Juice Relax Aging Arteries
Healthy blood flow to the brain declines with age as the vascular endothelium begins to harden and normal flexibility is lost. The heart needs to beat faster and harder to pump the same volume of blood, and normal oxygen supply is reduced. These are known risk factors for the onset of dementia as well as stroke.
Beetroot juice is high in natural nitrates that turn into nitrite and help to relax and open aging blood vessels that supply the brain. More blood flow corresponds to improved oxygenation, improved memory and the ability to learn and retain recent events.
Blood Flow to the Brain Improved with Beetroot Juice
The study conducted at Wake Forest University`s Translational Science Center included 14 adults aged 70 and over for a period of 4 days. Participants were broken into two groups and provided with a diet high in nitrates (from beetroot juice and leafy green vegetables) or a traditional diet without nitrates. The next day blood was drawn to determine nitrite saturation levels and an MRI was performed to check for blood flow to the brain. Participant diets were switched on subsequent days and the tests were repeated.
Study Concludes Beetroot Juice Improves Blood Flow and Cognition
Test results indicated that blood flow to the critical front lobe white matter was increased as a result of the diet high in nitrates from beetroot juice. No change was seen when a traditional diet was provided. The study authors concluded: “Our results support the proposal that oral nitrate therapy may be beneficial in treating cognitive decline that is often observed with aging. Towards that end, we show a direct effect of dietary nitrate on cerebral blood flow within the subcortical and deep white matter of the frontal lobes.”
Increasing blood flow and oxygenation is essential to prevent the cognitive decline that is so prevalent in the aging population. Half of those people at age 80 will experience some form of dementia or vascular disorder. Research continues to confirm that a natural diet including foods such as beetroot juice can help to improve cognition and allow people to age naturally.