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Juan Ponce de León may be best known throughout history as the explorer in search of the elusive Fountain of Youth, though he is certainly not the only one to have sought the key to eternal or longer-lasting youthfulness. While there isn’t an actual Fountain of Youth (or, we haven’t found it yet…) a recent study shows an amazing relationship between beetroot juice and a younger-performing brain.
Beets and beetroot juice are extremely rich in the nutrient nitrate. Nitrate is converted to nitrite, then nitric oxide when consumed. Nitric oxide is an amazing molecule that opens blood vessels, increasing blood flow and oxygen. Vasodilation is especially impactful in the brain, which consumes as much as 20 percent of the body’s total oxygen intake.
Wake Forest University conducted a study in 2010 that first established a link between beet consumption and increased blood flow to the brain. Daniel Kim-Shapiro, director of Wake Forest University’s Translational Science Center, noted that although several high-profile studies had shown beet juice could lower blood pressure, “We wanted to show that drinking beet juice can also increase blood flow to the brain.”
This groundbreaking study exposed 14 subjects, age 70 and older, to high- or low-nitrate diets over the course of four days.
This initial study showing a definitive link between nitrate-rich beets and increased blood flow to the brain was an encouraging catalyst to the second study.
Jack Rejeski is Thurman D. Kitchin Professor and the Director of Behavioral Medicine Laboratory in the Department of Health & Exercise Science at Wake Forest University (WFU). Partnering with the previous study’s Kim-Shapiro and other WFU scientists, this 2017 study aimed to establish an additional benefit of beets for the brain when combined with exercise. Beetroot juice and exercise was shown to increase oxygen to the frontal lobe, which, in part, controls the muscles throughout the body and processes information from the muscles.
As if brain health wasn’t enough, other studies have established a link between nitrate-rich beets and…
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