Are Beets the New Brain Food?

Beets can ward off dementia and Alzheimer's

Here’s some food for thought: new research suggests that beets may promote brain health in older adults. Beets are high in nitrates, chemical compounds that have been previously shown to improve circulation with demonstrated benefits to intestinal health, blood pressure, and exercise performance. Now, this super food may have potential anti-aging properties as well.

While the path to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease is complex, research shows that decreased blood flow to the brain precedes and likely contributes to the onset of dementia. Poor circulation to the brain has also been linked to slower information processing and poorer cognition.

The recent study aimed to determine if dietary nitrates would increase blood flow to the brains of older adults. Approximately 80% of dietary nitrates are derived from vegetable consumption; good sources of nitrates include cauliflower, collard greens, broccoli, spinach and root vegetables (potatoes, beets, turnips, etc). Participants in the study following the high nitrate diet consumed a diet high in vegetables, including 16 fl oz beet juice with breakfast.

Researchers examined five individuals in a preliminary study, and recruited 14 casino francais bonus more for the larger trial. The mean age of the subjects was 75. The first study was used to assess a target time for measuring blood flow to the brain after consuming a high nitrate diet. In the subsequent study, subjects consumed varying levels of nitrates (high and low) over 24 hours, and changes in blood flow were assessed using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI.) They found that a high nitrate diet led to increased blood flow to the brain, specifically to the frontal lobe, an area of the brain that is known to be at risk for decline among the elderly.

While the study has great potential, there are several limitations. Firstly, it was an extremely small study. Secondly, the researchers examined the intake of nitrates and the effect on blood flow to the brain as an isolated event. They did not follow the participants over time to observe who actually developed dementia. Additional long-term studies that assess cognitive decline are needed to draw definitive conclusions about the possible benefits of nitrates on brain health.

The significance of this study is however noteworthy. Prevention is key when it comes to the aging brain. The more we can learn about the impact of diet on the brain, the better. And remember, even if nitrates don’t prove to be effective on brain health in future studies, it doesn’t negate that beets are already a nutritious part of a balanced diet.

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