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The effects of high and low-nitrate foods on cognitive function in older adults

This is an opportunity to take part in a study testing the effects of foods on cognitive function and a range of health and well-being parameters.

  • Monday 22nd January 2018 10:00 (1 hour)
  • Research Participant
  • Participate


Functional foods such as those high in nitrate have been found to have beneficial effects on health parameters such as blood pressure and blood flow, and there is the potential that this improvement on blood flow will impact on cognitive performance.

Older adults are more at risk of cognitive impairment and so research into this population is important.

The aim of this study is to investigate the effects of high- and low-nitrate foods on cognitive function and a range of health and well-being parameters during an 8-week nutritional intervention study.

Performance will be tested during online cognitive tests, functional capacity using grip strength, gait and lung function, and markers of gut functioning.

Volunteer Criteria

To take part you must:

  • be aged 60 or over
  • be a non-smoker
  • not be vegetarian
  • have a BMI of 30 and under (your BMI will be tested in the initial eligibility assessment but you can also click here to find out)

Some medications and conditions that interfere with the safety and efficiency of the study will be excluded. These include, but are not restricted, to antacids, epilepsy, psychoactive medication, repetitive gastric reflux, diuretics and use of antibiotics in the last month.

What will I be asked to do?

This is a nutritional intervention trial in which participants will be asked to consume either banana only or beetroot plus banana every second day for an 8 week period.

Participants will be asked to continue with their normal diet throughout, making the supplementation the only change. All intervention foods will be provided.

The study involves 4 visits to the research facility, each lasting up to one hour.

Visit 1 (week -1) - This is a screening visit which involves assessment of eligibility using blood pressure, BMI and questionnaires and participants will be trained on the cognitive tasks.

Visit 2 (week 0) - Baseline testing involves measurements of body composition, functional capacity and a series cognitive tasks, and participants will be asked to provide a blood sample and urine sample. A number of questionnaires will also be completed.

Visit 3 (week 5) -  Mid-way testing will follow the same format as the second visit although a blood sample is not required at this point.

Visit 4 (week 9) -  End-of-study testing will follow the same format as the second visit.

An optional stool sample at each visit will provide information on healthy gut bacteria and gut functioning.

When & where?

Screening visits will start in the week commencing 22nd January 2018, with baseline testing beginning on 29th January. The study will then run for 8 weeks, finishing around March/April.

The researcher will be in touch with participants to arrange specific appointment times.

The visits will take place at NUFood research facility, Newcastle University.

Will I get anything for taking part?

Reasonable travel expenses and a £50 voucher will be offered for participation.


  • NU-Food, Agriculture Building
  • Newcastle University
  • Newcastle upon Tyne
  • NE1 7RU


Add a comment
  • Gordon Jones
    19th December 2017

    This looks very interesting but although I can scrape in on the BMI restriction I fear my medication would exclude me - and the fact that I eat beetroot and bananas regularly. There might be a limited pool of volunteers.

  • Karen Rathbone
    18th December 2017
  • Ian Fairclough
    18th December 2017

    I thought I would volunteer for this - mmm - that was a mistake - I am classed as "obese" - so I don't meet the criteria - which is sad, but never mind, its just life.

    Four mornings a week I attend the local leisure centre gym and kill myself for one hour per day. When I mentioned this study to our instructor he told me not to worry about the BMI results as the test has a flaw in it and it isn't totally accurate. He then gave me two references to read and asked me to make my own opinion.

    So............. for anyone else who is a F.U.B. but needs reassurance I submit these two references as evidence that we really are "Joe Cool."