This week I got confirmation in the current issue of the University of California, Berkeley’s Wellness Letter. Beet juice, the letter says, is a source of nitrates which have been shown to dilate blood vessels, increase blood flow to tissue, reduce demand of muscles for oxygen, and inhibit blood clots. Beet juice also is rich in red-yellow pigments called betalains, which display potent antioxidant activity.
- Blood pressure. Two studies have shown that drinking beet juice dramatically lowers blood pressure, systolic (top number) and diastolic (bottom number), both immediately and long term.
- Exercise. Beet juice also may enhance athletic performance, according to two studies. One showed that young men who consumed beet juice used less oxygen when walking and running, suggesting they were exercising more efficiently. The other found that men who consumed beet juice were able to bicycle longer compared to those drinking a placebo.
- Brain health. In a study this year from Wake Forest University, older people who drank 16 ounces of beet juice a day for two days showed greater blood flow to the frontal lobe of the brain, an area involved in skill such as planning and problem-solving (and the area particularly impacted by Parkinson’s). The Wellness Letter adds: “Beet juice won’t prevent or cure dementia, but perhaps future studies will determine whether beets can help improve mental function.”