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Health boost for beetroot juice sales

PUBLISHED: 11:17 29 April 2008 | UPDATED: 19:12 10 March 2010

Lawrence Mallinson with the beetroot juice produced at James White

Lawrence Mallinson with the beetroot juice produced at James White

SALES of a Suffolk-made beetroot juice have soared after a team of doctors discovered it can help blood pressure. James White Drinks says its beetroot juice, launched as a niche product about two years ago, has become its surprise top-seller this year following research by doctors at St Bartholomew's and the Royal London Hospital.

SALES of a Suffolk-made beetroot juice have soared after a team of doctors discovered it can help blood pressure.

James White Drinks says its beetroot juice, launched as a niche product about two years ago, has become its surprise top-seller this year following research by doctors at St Bartholomew's and the Royal London Hospital.

They found a daily dose of natural nitrate-rich beetroot juice can have as much effect on blood pressure in healthy volunteers as a conventional tablet prescribed by a doctor.

Notcutts garden centre at Woodbridge is among the retailers to have seen a surge in demand for the product in its restaurant and shop for the drink.

“We realised that we were constantly replenishing stocks of James White beetroot juice,” said garden centre manager Nick Bugden. “We were surprised that we were ordering far more of the beetroot variety and the reason is that people have discovered that it helps to cut blood pressure.”

James White, based at Ashbocking, near Ipswich, has just launched an organic beetroot juice called Heart Beet following the findings.

It has also launched a new range of organic pressed fruit and vegetable juices in a new type of plastic container. The four flavours include apple and beetroot, where the beetroot is in much smaller quantities, orange and carrot, peach and pear and ginger.

Lawrence Mallinson, proprietor and managing director of James White Drinks, said the sudden popularity of the beetroot juice had taken him by surprise.

Four professors had come up to the drinks firm, which believes it is the only beetroot juice manufacturer in the UK, before Christmas, he explained.

“They were very excited about the results of their findings,” he said. “I'm a bit sceptical about all these health claims if I'm honest, but I can sort of handle this one.”

Since the publicity about beetroot, sales of the drink had shot up, he said.

“Having been an also-ran on my list of products, barely noticed, which was where I expected it to remain, it's my single best-selling product,” he said. “There is quite a large body of people out there who are beetroot fans, so it did have a market before.”

Mr Mallison admits that he had to overcome his own prejudice about beetroot juice, but claims his juice is “fantastically nice”.

“My problem is that my stomach tells me that it's all about that vinegary stuff that used to stain my school uniform and which I hated with a passion,” he says. “Fresh beetroot is actually a very nice vegetable and hugely under-rated in this country.”

Specialised equipment is required to extract the juice, he said, and the vegetable is now out of season, making it more difficult to source.

Professor Amrita Ahluwalia, who led the beetroot juice research said: “The magnitude of the blood pressure reduction surprised us all.

“The results suggest that the nitrate in beetroot juice acts like a natural aspirin to prevent blood clots and protect the lining of blood vessels, as well as having the additional beneficial effect of lowering blood pressure. I am very excited about what our future researches will reveal.”

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