Beetroot Juice and Blood Pressure

Lawrence and his beets

Lawrence and his beets

When approached by a team of professors heralding the benefits of his beetroot juice, Lawrence Mallinson from James White Drinks was skeptical. However, his drink could be just what is needed to offer a natural alternative to lower blood pressures…

Ethical Superstore: Where did the idea for the new HeartBeet juice come from?
Lawrence Mallinson: I had none less than four professors descend on my office last year who were doing research on blood pressure using beetroot juice. I’m normally skeptical about such health claims as we were simply selling beetroot juice at the time as a quality niche product.

ES: So what exactly had these professors found?
LM: They were developing the science of Nobel Prize winners for medicine a few years before who found that nitric oxide thins the blood. Essentially, they identified that if you consume foods that are high in nitrate, like beetroot juice, the enzymes in your saliva break the nitrate down into nitrite, which when swallowed very easily converts to nitric oxide. The nitric oxide keeps our blood pressure low and helps prevent blood clots from forming.

ES: And beetroot in particular is good for this?
LM: Yes, and the exciting thing about beetroot juice is the effects are almost instant. You can measure a reduction in your blood pressure within hours of drinking beetroot juice. This team of professors realised that the affect was more immediate and impressive than they had initially imagined.

ES: Does it have to be beetroot?
LM: Beetroot juice is high in nitrate and particularly good in storing nitrate. Spinach is good too, but is unspeakably awful as a juice!

ES: So, could it be used as an alternative to conventional medication?
LM: High blood pressure is a big issue. Once spotted your doctor will make you take it seriously and encourage you to change aspects of your lifestyle. People with high blood pressure are generally given a course of pills, so in many senses we are trying to give an alternative to taking those pills. Trials are still continuing now funded by the British Heart Foundation and at this stage I wouldn’t dream of saying ‘stop taking the medication’, but providing a natural alternative of a glass of beetroot juice a day is what we are aiming at.

ES: And what is it like to drink?
LM: It’s actually very light and easy to drink. Although beetroot juice is quite sweet already, it has got a slightly earthy taste, so we mix in 10 per cent apple juice. I have a lasting image of pickled beetroot from my childhood as many people do – my stomach is screaming at me don’t be so stupid – but when I drink it, it is actually rather nice.

ES: Will many people like it?

LM: Beetroot is a bit like Marmite and gets very strong reactions from people. I carried out a tasting myself and stood in Waitrose with it – a proportion looked at me as if I needed my head examined, others adored the stuff. It may not appeal to everybody but there is an enthusiastic group of people who love it.

ES: Could Heartbeet win them over?
LM: Those that are horrified by the idea of beetroot are usually horrified by the pickled stuff they had at school – like I was. These could be won over if beetroot is presented in a different format and served in a more attractive way. I personally really like it now as a fresh vegetable.

ES: Is it important that it is organic?
LM: The scientists are using my organic juice to do their continued research, but the nitrate will be there whether it’s organic or not. The argument with organics is whether the pesticides and fertilizers impact on other health issues.

ES: So beetroot juice is set to please your doctor?
LM: Yes. But people must know that while beetroot is a great colour – it goes straight through the system. I don’t want the world queuing up at the doctors thinking they have something wrong with them because their pee is pink!

HeartBeet Beetroot Juice (£1.49 for 250ml) is now available to order from Ethical Superstore.

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