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When looking to find the right kinds of foods and drinks to help you live a longer and healthier life, one should look at an ingredient with the most health benefits. According to numerous studies, beetroot juice is just that. From preventing cancers, lowering blood pressure and even reducing the risk of dementia, beetroot juice packs a great punch and could be the answer to helping you boost longevity. How?
New research into the health benefits of beetroot juice suggests it’s not only athletes who can benefit from its performance enhancing properties.
Beetroot juice’s physiological effects could help the elderly or people with heart or lung conditions enjoy more active lives.
When consumed, beetroot juice has two marked physiological effects.
Firstly, it widens blood vessels, reducing blood pressure and allowing more blood flow.
Secondly, it affects muscle tissue, reducing the amount of oxygen needed by muscles during activity.
The combined effects have a significant impact on performing physical tasks, whether it involves low-intensity or high-intensity effort which could help to boost longevity.
Beetroots get their rich colour from betalains, which are water-soluble antioxidants.
According to studies, betalains have chemo-preventive abilities against some cancer cell lines.
Betalains are thought to be free radical scavengers that help find and destroy unstable cells in the body.
It’s believed these help to reduce the risk of certain cancers.
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What the studies say
In a study published in Hypertension, dietary nitrate and how it lowers blood pressure in hypertensive patients was investigated.
The study noted: “We randomly assigned 68 patients with hypertension in a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial to receive daily dietary supplementation for four weeks with either dietary nitrate (250 mL daily, as beetroot juice) or a placebo (250 mL daily, as nitrate-free beetroot juice) after a two-week run-in period and followed by a two-week washout.
“Daily supplementation with dietary nitrate was associated with reduction in blood pressure measured by three different methods.”
The study concluded that dietary nitrate is an affordable, readily available, adjunctive treatment in the management of patients with hypertension.
In another study published in the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, the effect of a high nitrate diet on brain perfusion in older adults was analysed.
Dietary nitrate may be important when increased blood flow in hypoxic or ischemic areas is indicated, noted the study.
It continued: “These conditions could include age-associated dementia and cognitive decline.”
The study found that nitrates may help increase blood flow to the brain in older people and help slow cognitive decline.
It was noted that after participants consumed a high-nitrate diet that included beetroot juice, their brain MRIs showed increased blood flow in the frontal lobes which are associated with cognitive thinking and behaviour.
What the experts say
Katie Lansley, a PhD student from the university’s Sport and Health Sciences department said: “As you get older, or if you have conditions which affect your cardiovascular system, the amount of oxygen you can take in to use during exercise drops considerably.
“This means that, for some people, even simple tasks like walking may not be manageable.
“What we’ve seen in studies is that beetroot juice can actually reduce the amount of oxygen you need to perform even low-intensity exercise.
“In principle, this effect could help people do things they wouldn’t otherwise be able to do.
“While we haven’t yet measured the effects on the elderly or those with heart or lung conditions, there is the potential for a positive impact in these populations which we intend to go on and investigate further.”
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