We know: it’s easy to overthink juice, with so much discussion about the amount of sugar in it. But a new study has just highlighted one powerful juice for your cardiovascular health and brain function. Curiously, it has to do with the way our mouths process a particular chemical… and best of all, it comes from a plant that turns up on a lot of tables this time of year.
Now, in a new study at the U.K.’s University of Exeter, a team of physiology researchers examined 26 participants who were between 70 and 80 years old. For 10 days, the participants drank beet juice, which is naturally rich in chemicals as nitrates, as well as a nitrate-rich placebo juice, twice a day.
Previous research has shown that an important reason our cardiovascular health and cognitive function decline over time has to do with a decreased capacity for our body to turn nitrate into nitric oxide. When the body’s working just right, these chemicals start to undergo a process that begins right inside our mouths to help the blood vessels dilate to promote healthy blood flow to the heart and brain.
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What this study found is that beet juice significantly increased the levels of bacteria associated with good vascular and cognitive health, and lowered the levels of bacteria that are known to cause inflammation (and therefore, disease as we age).
“Our findings suggest that adding nitrate-rich foods to the diet—in this case via beetroot juice—for just ten days can substantially alter the oral microbiome (mix of bacteria) for the better,” Lead researcher Professor Anni Vanhatalo explained. “Maintaining this healthy oral microbiome in the long-term might slow down the negative vascular and cognitive changes associated with aging.”
The study also pointed out that green veggies like spinach, lettuce, and celery are high in nitrates, too.
This is all the more reason to eat your beets and even pickle those eggs this spring. Check out our 19 Boss Beet Recipes.
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