Drinking beet juice can increase blood flow to the brain, which may help reduce the risk of age-related dementia. This finding comes from a small study at Wake Forest University where researchers found that drinking 16 ounces of beet juice, which is high in nitrates, plus some high nitrate meals, led to increased blood flow to areas of the brain often associated with changes that lead to dementia. With age, these areas can become poorly perfused (blood doesn’t flow there as freely as it does in younger people), the researchers said. Other high nitrate foods that could increase blood flow to these key brain areas include celery, cabbage and other leafy green vegetables such as spinach and some lettuce. When you eat these foods, bacteria in the mouth turn nitrate into nitrites, which can help relax the muscular walls of blood vessels and increase blood flow. Only 14 adults age 70 and older participated in the study. After consuming high nitrate breakfasts the participants underwent MRIs, which showed increased blood flow to the white matter of the frontal lobes. The study results were published online in Nitric Oxide: Biology and Chemistry, the peer-reviewed journal of the Nitric Oxide Society.
Here's a delicious recipe using nitrate-rich leafy greens.