Scientists say beets may be the new superfood. A new study suggests that a daily dose of beet juice boosts blood flow to the brain, sharpening your mind and potentially creating a safeguard against dementia as you age.
In a press announcement on November 5, researchers revealed that they saw an increased blood flow to the brains of older adults who drank 16 ounces (473 ml) of beet juice for breakfast.
Beet juice is rich in nitrate. The body turns nitrate into nitrite, which helps to open up blood vessels and improve blood flow. High concentrations of nitrates are found in beets, as well as in celery, cabbage, and other leafy green vegetables such as spinach and some lettuce.
The downside: beet juice doesn't taste particularly good compared to, say, pomegranate and açai berry juice. Wake Forest University is working with a company to create a new beet juice beverage that they claim will be tasty, and they hope to bring the product to market soon.
For at-home juicers, even hardcore health aficionados urge to never drink beet juice without a mixer, such as with other vegetables or apple juice, and to not overdo it. Pure beet juice (from the bulb or greens) could temporarily paralyze your vocal chords, make you break out in hives, increase your heart rate, or cause chills or a fever. So juice with caution.
Previous studies on beets include research by the London School of Medicine that found that drinking 500 ml (a little over 2 cups) of beet juice a day can significantly decrease blood pressure. Another British study found beet juice can help individuals exercise 16 percent longer by increasing stamina.
The recent findings are published online in Nitric Oxide: Biology and Chemistry, the peer-reviewed journal of the Nitric Oxide Society. Access the article at ScienceDirect (http://www.sciencedirect.com).