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Ask the Experts

Beets and antiaging



Q: I’ve heard that beets have great antiaging properties. How do they help?

A: Our body’s cells breathe oxygen, and the lack of it leads to their degeneration. As cells degenerate, so does the organ and, eventually, the entire organism. So keeping ourselves alive and thriving requires adequate oxygen delivery to each of our cells.

Lack of oxygen to the heart can cause heart failure and create cognitive decline in the brain. These are the diseases that many doctors tell us are inevitable. We’re told they’re part of aging, but what if they can be prevented? We don’t all develop them, so they’re far from inevitable.

Our lifestyle is paramount to continued health; this includes proper exercise, stress management, and, of course, diet.

New research is showing that simply adding beets to the diet may help improve your long-term health. Beets contain naturally high levels of nitrates that researchers have found can be converted to nitric oxide, a potent vasodilator. Nitric oxide production is the mechanism of many heart medications and even Viagra.

When older people supplemented with beet juice to increase the nitrates in their diet, it was shown to increase blood flow in the parts of the brain charged with cognition and many other functions. Beets have also been shown to help naturally lower blood pressure, prevent excessive clotting, and prevent damage of the arteries that can be caused by low oxygen delivery.

Altogether increasing our beet consumption is a very simple, safe, and cost-effective measure to promote ongoing health. These benefits can be attained from consuming beets, beet juice, and even dried powdered beets. Go ahead, beet yourself up.



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Raise a glass and say cheers to not-so-hard drinks

Matthew Kadey, MSc, RDMatthew Kadey, MSc, RD