[This abstract first appeared in: Dementia: the Latest Evidence Newsletter (RWHT) Volume 1 Issue 5 December 2010].
A daily glass of beetroot juice may delay the onset of dementia among older adults, according to this research. Nitrates occur in high levels in beetroot (and other vegetables), and these get converted into nitrites in the body thereby increasing blood flow.
The participants were given a diet that was either low or high in nitrates over a four-day period. The participants’ blood flow to different regions of the brain was measured on a scan. This research suggests that adults who eat a diet high in nitrates may experience an increased blood flow to certain areas of the brain.
Expert reviewers have commented that this study does not provide robust evidence. Caution is required because the study involved only 16 elderly people, and because a short experiment such as this does not cover enough time to draw firm conclusions. Further research is needed, involving a larger number of people over a longer period.
Presley, TD. Morgan, AR. Bechtold, E. [et al] (2010). Acute effect of a high nitrate diet on brain perfusion in older adults. Nitric Oxide, October 15th 2010. [Epub ahead of print].