Sunday, November 7, 2010

Can't BEET it!

Ha ha ha. Sorry for the pun, I just couldn't help myself. I'll try not to go too nuts with this story (because that would be BEET-ing a dead horse!)

Apparently, beet juice is kind of a big deal. They've been looking into it over at Wake Forest University, and it has some pretty beneficial health effects. It's all about the nitrates, which I thought were supposed to be harmful compounds found in processed meat like hot dogs, but then I'm not a university biologist so my knowledge is crap.

The body turns nitrates into nitrites, and nitrites improve blood flow. The Wake Forest researchers divided up their test subjects into a group that ate a lot of nitrates, provided by beet juice, and a group that didn't. Then they switched diets halfway through for the participants to make sure that it really was the food that was having the effect. And in all cases, the research supported the theory that increased nitrate consumption leads to improved blood flow.

From there, they are saying that this improves brain activity, and think it's going to be helpful for older adults.

What I want to know is how nasty it was to have to drink 16 ounces of straight beet juice. That's a full pint glass, and when dealing with glasses of that size, I'd rather have the beer. Does beer help increase the blood flow to the brain? If they're interested in studying that, I want to volunteer to be one of the test subjects!

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The header image is adapted from a photo taken by Bill McChesney and used under a creative commons license.
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