A veggie that ‘could keep your brain healthy as you age’


Beetroot juice contains a chemical that helps the blood flow in such a manner that it enhances the brain’s cognitive functions.

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Healthcare experts are now advocating that a nitrate-dietary supplementation with beetroot juice is the one nutritional strategy that might help to control arterial blood pressure in healthy subjects, pre-hypertensive population, and even patients diagnosed and treated with drugs.

We know Dr Michael Mosley As a science presenter, journalist and executive producer. He is also the author of the international bestselling books The Clever Guts Diet, The Fast Diet, Fast Exercise and The 8-Week Blood Sugar Diet.

“So, I’m at home making sauerkraut. I’ve just been grating in lots of this lovely colorful vegetable,” said Dr Michael Mosley in his BBC Radio 4 podcast. “And I should probably have worn an apron because it’s staining my shirt,” the host noted. The vegetable he’s referring to is beetroot. And apart from being a colorful addition to your meals, it also offers plenty of benefits for your brain, reports Diana Buntagova in UL newspaper Daily Express.

Dr Mosley said: “Consuming beetroot juice has been shown to boost cognition and improve your ability to make quick decisions.

“There are some suggestions it could even be helpful for keeping your brain healthy as you age.”

Beetroot juice pixabay
Beetroot juice pixabay

Exercise and beetroot juice connection:

It is well known that cognitive function decreases with age, partly due to a reduction in cerebral blood flow. This reduction in cerebral blood flow has been implicated in dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Beetroot has been found to improve cerebral blood flow by increasing the availability of nitrous oxide. A study published in 2013 found that ingestion of beetroot juice showed improvements in systemic and cerebral vascular hemodynamics.

A BBC report states: “For exercise, our results indicate that eating a high-nitrate vegetable meal before exercise reduces the effort required, so it might make people more inclined to exercise. It would suggest that the physical tasks of daily living, such as climbing stairs or walking to the local shops, would feel a little less tiring after eating a high-nitrate vegetable meal.

When it came to mental benefits, our results suggested that high-nitrate vegetables did not make any difference to mental performance in situations where people are at rest, but did appear to help maintain mental sharpness following exercise.”

On the podcast mentioned earlier, Dr Mosley continued: “Not only that it seems this vegetable could have an unbeatable impact on our brains, but it’s also been shown to improve cognitive function in older adults who exercised and drank beetroot juice. The part of their brain networks associated with motor function began to look more like that of younger adults. So, it seems that a combination of beetroot and movement really can help keep your brain younger.”

Beetroots are richly packed with nitrates. Scientists at Wake Forest University found that beetroot juice can improve the flow of blood to the brain. When nitrate enters the body it turns into nitrite, which has been shown to open blood vessels and improve blood flow.

How to prepare beetroot juice:

But to enhance the benefits and extract maximum benefits from beetroot juice, it is important that certain methods be followed. Professor of Applied Physiology at the University of Exeter, Andrew Jones also participated in Dr Mosley’s podcast to break down the research.

Jones’ research on beetroots shows that nitrate is actually water-soluble. He warns that if you were to boil the vegetable and then throw away the cooking liquor, you’d probably lose the majority of the nitrate. “If you’re going to cook a beetroot at home, roasting it or baking it is probably better than boiling it,” Prof Jones said.

Beeturia: When the wee and poo turn red

Don’t be alarmed when the next day you find that your urine looks red and the poo too carries the red tenge. It’s called Beeturia and is a harmless condition or side effect of having ingested beetroot in some form or the other. The extent of discolouration varies from person to person and depends on what you ingested. For example, raw beet juice can cause dark red or dark pink urine. But if you eat cooked beets, your urine may be a lighter color of pink or red.

As for which variety of beets is the richest in nitrates, experts vote for Bikores, Boltardy, Nero and Detroit – 4 beetroot varieties that not only produce high levels of nitrate but also yield well, have a good betanin content and form a good shape to the beet.

Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purposes only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a dietician before starting any fitness program or making any changes to your diet.

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