New research suggests that, in addition to heart health benefits, beetroot juice could improve blood flow to the brain and therefore join the fight against dementia. According to scientists at Wake Forest University in the US, beetroot juice could prove a powerful tool in boosting brain health.
"There have been several 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," said Daniel Kim-Schapiro, director of the Translational Science Centre at Wake Forest University.
Improved blood flow to the brain is relevant to cognitive health and ageing because poorer blood flow in the brain among the elderly is believed to be linked to the onset of dementia. Beetroot is a high-nitrate food and nitrate has been found to help open blood vessels and improve blood flow, say scientists.
To do so, they took a group of 14 adults aged 70 or over and for two days fed half of them a high nitrate breakfast that included 16 ounces of beetroot juice, while the other half ate a low nitrate breakfast. After that, an MRI scan was taken before the two groups swapped breakfasts for two days before having another scan. The MRI scans revealed that blood flow to the white matter of the frontal lobes, an area commonly associated with dementia, was higher among those who had just had the high nitrate breakfast.
Perhaps not surprisingly, on the back of this recent research into the heart and stamina benefits of beetroot juice, it has begun to see its share of the market grow. In the UK, leading supermarket chain Waitrose recently revealed that sales had grown 82 percent over the past year, while bunched and prepared beetroot sales were also up 15 and 22 percent respectively.
Meanwhile the scientists at Wake Forest University behind this latest research say they are looking to exploit the market potential of beetroot juice and are currently working with a company to reduce the bitterness of the drink - with the aim of developing a new beetroot beverage. The university is also looking at ways of marketing the drink.
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