Beets come in a variety of colors, from red, white to gold. They are a root vegetable, much like carrots, and have a sweet flavor. They can be eaten raw or lightly cooked. Beets are considered a multi-purpose vegetable, because the roots and the leaves are both edible.
There are so many reasons to eat beets. They have compounds that have shown potent anti-inflammatory properties. Three specific compounds betanin, isobetanin, and vulgaxanthin have especially shown these benefits. Reducing inflammation is one of the keys to overall health and preventing disease.
Beets also contain compounds called betalains, which are the pigments that give them their color. Betalains help the body by neutralizing toxins and supporting the cell’s natural detoxification process. They prevent toxins from accumulating in the body and flush them out through urine.
Now, research shows that just one dose of beet juice boosts brain function. Deanna Minich, PhD, founder of Food and Spirit told GreenMedInfo:
“One recent study in 40 healthy people showed that they were able to better perform on cognitive tests 90 minutes after drinking 450 mL beetroot juice compared with placebo (apple/blackcurrant juice, which is low in nitrates). What I really like about this study is that brain performance can be improved fairly rapidly in healthy people with a simple activity like drinking beetroot juice (high in dietary nitrates, which leads to more nitric oxide to open up oxygen flow in the brain).”
The study abstract goes into further details about the mechanisms of beets and how they impact brain function:
“Nitrate derived from vegetables is consumed as part of a normal diet and is reduced endogenously via nitrite to nitric oxide. It has been shown to improve endothelial function, reduce blood pressure and the oxygen cost of sub-maximal exercise, and increase regional perfusion in the brain. The current study assessed the effects of dietary nitrate on cognitive performance and prefrontal cortex cerebral blood-flow (CBF) parameters in healthy adults. In this randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-groups study, 40 healthy adults received either placebo or 450ml beetroot juice (~5.5mmol nitrate). Following a 90minute drink/absorption period, participants performed a selection of cognitive tasks that activate the frontal cortex for 54min. Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS) was used to monitor CBF and hemodynamics, as indexed by concentration changes in oxygenated and deoxygenated-haemoglobin, in the frontal cortex throughout. The bioconversion of nitrate to nitrite was confirmed in plasma by ozone-based chemi-luminescence. Dietary nitrate modulated the hemodynamic response to task performance, with an initial increase in CBF at the start of the task period, followed by consistent reductions during the least demanding of the three tasks utilised. Cognitive performance was improved on the serial 3s subtraction task. These results show that single doses of dietary nitrate can modulate the CBF response to task performance and potentially improve cognitive performance, and suggest one possible mechanism by which vegetable consumption may have beneficial effects on brain function.”
In simpler terms, the beet juice helped with haemodynamic response (HR), which is a type of response in the brain during task performance. HR rapidly delivers blood to brain tissues. Also, beet nitrates dilate blood vessels, which lead to increases of intake in oxygen and nutrients. This may explain the cognitive effects of beet juice.
The study showing that one dose of beet juice boosts brain function was published in the journal Nitric Oxide.
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1. “Beet Juice Boosts Cognitive Function In One Dose.” GreenMedInfo.com. GreenMedInfo.com, 30 June 2015. Web. 13 July 2015.
2. “Acute Effect of a High Nitrate Diet on Brain Perfusion in Older Adults.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1 Jan. 2011. Web. 13 July 2015.