I’m always looking for ways to work smarter, not harder, and it looks like a morning beet-juice ritual is just what I’ve been seeking. A new study published in the journal Psychology & Behavior reveals how anyone can boost cognitive function after drinking just one glass of wonderful beet juice.
Beets work fast to create a smarter brain by boosting performance in just 90 minutes after drinking a 450 mL beetroot juice compared to a placebo. The dietary nitrates in beets work to open up oxygen flow to the brain, and therefore, cognitive functioning improves.
“Nitrate derived from vegetables is consumed as part of a normal diet and is reduced endogenously via nitrite to nitric oxide. It has been shown to improve endothelial function, reduce blood pressure and the oxygen cost of sub-maximal exercise, and increase regional perfusion in the brain. The current study assessed the effects of dietary nitrate on cognitive performance and prefrontal cortex cerebral blood-flow (CBF) parameters in healthy adults. In this randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-groups study, 40 healthy adults received either placebo or 450ml beetroot juice (~5.5mmol nitrate).
Following a 90minute drink/absorption period, participants performed a selection of cognitive tasks that activate the frontal cortex for 54min. Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS) was used to monitor CBF and hemodynamics, as indexed by concentration changes in oxygenated and deoxygenated-haemoglobin, in the frontal cortex throughout . . .”
The study goes on to say that in just ONE DOSE, dietary nitrate modulates the CBF response to improve cognitive tasks.
While not all vegetables were tested in the study (only beets), they had a very positive impact on haemodynamic response (HR). In neurobiology, the HR involves the rapid delivery of blood to active neuronal tissues. The blood vessel dilating effects of beet nitrate and subsequent increases in oxygen and nutrients may help explain why people could perform tasks better than the placebo group.
Researchers believe the beetroot juice may work to boost stamina by affecting how the body processes nitrate into nitric oxide, thereby reducing the amount of oxygen burned by the body during a workout. Perhaps most remarkable, the same results can’t be achieved by other means.
According to researcher Professor Andy Jones:
“We were amazed by the effects of beetroot juice on oxygen uptake because these effects cannot be achieved by any other known means, including training…I am also keen to explore the relevance of the findings to those people who suffer from poor fitness and may be able to use dietary supplements to help them go about their daily lives.”
If you are relying on a morning cup of coffee to get your ‘head on right’ you might want to reconsider, and have just 15 ounces of beet juice instead. Considering that beet juice is also known to benefit cardiovascular health, prevent cancer, and promote liver health, added cognitive function is just an added boon.
Want more? Here are 6 other beets health benefits you shouldn’t miss.
Christina Sarich is a humanitarian and freelance writer helping you to Wake up Your Sleepy Little Head, and See the Big Picture. Her blog is Yoga for the New World. Her latest book is Pharma Sutra: Healing the Body And Mind Through the Art of Yoga.