By Kiersten Willis, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Juicing is a popular go-to option for people looking to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into their diet. But a new study has found there are key benefits to beet juice.
Research led by scientists at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom has found that drinking beet juice promotes a blend of mouth bacteria that are tied to healthier blood vessels and improved brain function.
Beets, or as they’re referred to in the U.K., beetroot, have a high concentration of inorganic nitrate. Many oral bacteria play a part in converting nitrite into nitric oxide, a naturally occurring molecule in the body. This molecule aids in the regulation of blood vessels and chemical messages in the brain.
Lower nitric oxide production is typically found in older people. This is linked to decreased vascular and brain health.
With that in mind, researchers gathered 26 healthy older people who participated in two 10-day supplementation periods. One of the periods involved nitrate-rich beetroot juice and the other had nitrate-free placebo juice. Each juice was consumed twice a day.
The findings displayed increased levels of bacteria linked to good vascular and cognitive health. Decreased levels of bacteria associated with disease and inflammation and a drop in blood pressure were also found.
“We are really excited about these findings, which have important implications for healthy aging,” lead author professor Anni Vanhatalo said in a statement. “Previous studies have compared the oral bacteria of young and older people, and healthy people compared to those with diseases, but ours is the first to test nitrate-rich diet in this way.
“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. Maintaining this healthy oral microbiome in the long term might slow down the negative vascular and cognitive changes associated with aging.”
The study was published in the May 2021 issue of the journal Redox Biology.