Beets are a common sweetening ingredient in the juices you’ll find at most health food stores, but a recent study found another reason to drink the bright red juice: It has anti-aging benefits.
Researchers at Wake Forest University knew that exercise has positive anti-aging effects on the brain, and were looking for ways to increase those benefits.
“What we showed in this brief training study of hypertensive older adults was that, as compared to exercise alone, adding a beet root juice supplement to exercise resulted in brain connectivity that closely resembles what you see in younger adults,” W. Jack Rejeski, co-author of the study, told EurekAlert.
The small study included 26 men and women aged 55 and older who did not exercise, had high blood pressure, and took no more than two medications for their high blood pressure. Three times a week, they drank Beet-It Sport Shot — a beet root juice supplement — one hour before a 50-minute walk on the treadmill.
Half of the participants received Beet-It containing 560 milligrams of nitrate, a substance found in beets that increases blood flow in the body and improves exercise performance, while the other half received placebo Beet-It with very little nitrate.
“Nitric oxide is a really powerful molecule,” Rejeski stated. “It goes to the areas of the body which are hypoxic, or needing oxygen, and the brain is a heavy feeder of oxygen in your body.”
Combining beet juice with exercise was found to deliver more oxygen to the brain, thus creating an environment for strengthening the area of the brain associated with motor activity. The group served beet juice had much higher levels of nitrate and nitrite than the placebo group after exercise.
This isn’t the first study to find that beets have a positive effect on health and exercise. They may also regulate blood pressure and improve exercise performance and endurance.
So if these bright red roots aren’t yet part of your diet, it may be time to plug your nose and drink up.