Drinking beetroot juice before exercising boosts brain performance

Posted at 5:56 PM, Apr 26, 2017

Beetroot is a bright purple root vegetable and has been growing in popularity as a new superfood. Now a new study finds combining beetroot juice with exercise could boost your brain performance.

Scientists recruited 26 men women aged 55 and older. All participants had high blood pressure and were not exercising prior to the study.  

Half of the participants were given beetroot juice containing 560 milligrams of nitrate one hour before walking 50 minutes on a treadmill.  

After 6 weeks, MRI’s measured everyone’s brain function. Those who drank beetroot juice showed greater connectivity in the brain regions associated with motor function, and overall had healthier brains with more oxygen flow.  

The researchers felt the results were comparable to what you’d see in younger adults.  

Beetroot is naturally high in nitrates, but not the same harmful nitrates found in deli meats or bacon. The dietary nitrates found in beets are beneficial.  

They may relax and dilate blood vessels, lowering blood pressure and increase blood flow to the brain. Beets are good sources of potassium, vitamin C, fiber, folate, and antioxidants.

If you’d like to add beets to your diet, here are my prescriptions:

  • When buying, make sure beets feel heavy for their size and have no surface damage. Smaller beets are typically sweeter.
  • If you buy beets with the tops on, make sure they’re green and fresh looking, not wilted. You can also eat them too.
  • You can roast, steam, boil or eat beets raw. Store them in the fridge in a tightly sealed bag.
  • To make beetroot juice: wash, peel and blend with fruit like oranges, apples, lemon, or pineapple. You can add mint and ginger too. Be sure to strain.

If you start drinking beet juice, be aware that urine and stools can look reddish - this is completely normal. 

If you’re taking medications like nitroglycerine or nitrite drugs used for angina, beets may interact with them so you should speak to your doctor first. 

When it comes to your body, be sure to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein, as together they are the key to good health.