Don’t Let Your Brain Skip a Beet!

What vegetable tastes “earthy,” helps snow and ice operations maintain safer roads, lowers your blood pressure, can benefit diabetics, may help fend off Alzheimer’s and prevent dementia, and is used in make-up and food coloring?

It’s beets! Yes, all those benefits in one humble and often overlooked vegetable. Did you know beets are also high in vitamin C and folate?

The main reason I have overlooked beets in the past is because I think they taste a lot like dirt when juiced raw.  I prefer them cooked with lots of butter.  I don’t put cooked beets in my smoothies, so in order for me to enjoy beet juice it has to be mixed with other sweet ingredients.

Today I thought my brain could use a boost so I made the perfect beet juice smoothie combination.  I blended one ripe banana, about a cup of frozen red beet juice (I bought beets at a farmer’s market, juiced them, and then froze them for later), a handful of organic frozen peaches, a tablespoon of red maca powder, 2 teaspoons of chia seeds, and one juice box of fruit punch. (The juice box was Kirkland brand with no preservatives or artificial flavors/colors. I used what I had in my kitchen to help mask the “dirt” taste and it worked!).

Did you know beet juice smoothies can improve your brain function?

Did you know beet juice smoothies can improve your brain function?

Mind, Mood, and Memory lists beet juice as one of five super brain drinks.  According to a study published in 2010, one reason beet juice is so super is that it increases blood flow to your brain.

The study compared brain scans of older adults before and after they drank beet juice, which contains large concentrations of nitrates that are converted in the body into blood-vessel-expanding nitrites. Imaging showed that study participants who consumed beet juice experienced increased blood flow to the white matter in the frontal lobes of the brain, a region often affected by cognitive decline and dementia. Mind, Mood & Memory 7.3 (2011): 6.

The four other super brain drinks in the article were carrot juice, tea (green and black varieties), acai juice, and red wine.  (If you start adding in these liquids on a regular basis you are still supposed to drink six to eight glasses of water a day!)

Remember that moderation is key when it comes to juicing.  There can be unwanted side effects to “over juicing”– especially super brain drinks.  Juices add a lot of sugar/calories, but don’t always satisfy as much as solid foods.  An article in Environmental Nutrition stated: “In fact, a 2008 review published in Obesity Reviews suggests that fluid calories are not recognized by the body in the same way solid foods are. Consuming liquid calories does little to suppress ghrelin–the body’s hunger-stimulating hormone–as effectively as consuming solid foods.”

So, let’s not neglect the five super foods to eat (you might stay fuller longer!). These five foods are mentioned in Tracey Neithercott’s article,”Powerhouse Picks: five foods you should be eating– but probably aren’t.”

The list includes: beets, sardines, brussell sprouts, pumpkin seeds, and kale.  Her article was published in Diabetes Forecast and mentions that beets can help diabetics suffering from nerve damage.  However, another article I read cautioned those with kidney disease or diabetes when it came to consuming beet juice.  It advised them to limit their amounts of beet juice because it is high in potassium and sugar.  Ask a health professional if you are unsure.

Another fun fact about beets is that you can use them in your makeup instead of chemicals.  Remember my post about Makeup and Your Brain?  If you’d like to stay away from chemicals in your makeup, you might want to check out Kimball’s website, Heavy on Wholesome, for some instructions on using beets/beet powder to create your own custom lip stain, loose powder, eyeliner, and blush.

What fun things have you discovered about beets? Is your brain a fan? Hopefully, you’ll think twice before you skip the beets!

By: Tina Davidson

Sources

(I found my sources online at my library’s database: General Reference Center GOLD. Web. 12 Feb. 2014)

“Beet juice–a natural remedy for high blood pressure: beetroots and other vegetables contain high levels of nitrates associated with cardiovascular benefits.” Mind, Mood & Memory 9.7 (2013): 6.

“Beet juice for the road.” Public Management 95.3 (2013): 5.

“Drink to brain health with 5 nourishing beverages: nutrient-rich drinks promote brain fitness and function and are an important aspect of a healthy diet.” Mind, Mood & Memory 7.3 (2011): 6.

“Experimental antiskid ‘beets’ salt in extreme cold.” Erie Times-News [Erie, PA] 10 Jan. 2014.

Neithercott, Tracey. “Powerhouse Picks: five foods you should be eating–but probably aren’t.” Diabetes Forecast May 2010: 35+.

“Oil dressing, beet juice, giblets may reduce Alzheimer’s risk.” UPI NewsTrack 28 Dec. 2013.

“The problem with drinking your calories.” Environmental Nutrition June 2013: 3.

This Valentine's Day make sure you take care of your brain!

This Valentine’s Day make sure you take care of your brain! (I painted this sign with beet juice!)

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