Last week we talked about green leafy vegetables‘ role in improving brain function. Today we’ll explore another delicious vegetable that may prove to be the cure for Alzheimer’s disease.
Beets are root vegetables with striking purplish-red flesh. They’re delicious both raw and cooked, and they’re essential in a healthy diet.
Beets are rich in fiber and contain a variety of vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins, iron, copper, magnesium, and potassium. Among its health benefits are lowered blood pressure, reduced risk of heart disease, increased endurance, and improved liver function.
Now researchers say beets can slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
Here’s how it works: the signature physiological characteristic of Alzheimer’s is beta-amyloid buildup in the brain. Amino acids called amyloid beta proliferate in the brain. They form large clusters called beta-amyloid plaques that accumulate and disrupt normal neuron function. These beta-amyloid groupings also cause an inflammatory response in the nervous system, which further advances the disease.
New research finds that beets contain a compound that may slow this process. The chemical betanin—the pigment responsible for beets’ deep red color—interacts with amyloid beta. It prevents this accumulation of the harmful proteins in the brain.
The researchers conducted experiments with betanin, and found the pigment reduced the damage caused by amyloid beta by 90 percent. While the scientists were clear that betanin will not completely prevent Alzheimer’s disease, it does appear to slow the growth of beta-amyloid plaque.
This is promising news for drug developers, who can experiment with this widely available pigment in new drug formulas.
For the rest of us, it’s another reason to eat those tasty red orbs.