The humble beetroot has come a long way in Ireland in recent years, now appearing in all the best places.

Take this weekend for example. On Friday, I was at the five star Hayfield Manor Hotel here in Cork. And here the red root took a starring role in one of the starters billed as “a salad with Roasted Beetroot and Carrot, Feta cheese, cucumber and caramelized walnuts” and very nice it was too.

Of course, the beetroot isn’t just in red. On Saturday, I was a guest at the exciting new Electric Bar and Restaurant in the South Mall. I saw that they had Home Smoked Duck, served with rainbow (red and yellow) beetroots and leaves. Couldn't resist it and it was gorgeous.

Hardly expected it to appear on my breakfast table this morning but there it was: Pomegranate with beetroot. It is one of a series of relatively new Pomegreat drinks from award winning Irish firm, Robert Roberts. And it is perhaps the favourite of the trio of samples that I tried over the past few days although I must say I also liked the one with Blueberry added.

The drinks are being marketed under the Pomegreat name and, aside from tasting well, could well have health benefits.

  • Study for leading drinks brand Pomegreat points to health and dietary benefits of the increasingly popular juice

Pomegranate juice reduces blood pressure and may play a role in deflating beer bellies and shrinking muffin tops, according to a study by Queen Margaret University commissioned by Pomegreat, the UK’s leading supplier of pomegranate juice blends.

Volunteers in a medical trial who drank a glass a day for four weeks saw a “significant” reduction in blood pressure, with a fall recorded in more than 90 per cent of the group.  High blood pressure, or hypertension, is among the causes of heart disease, strokes and kidney failure.

Dr Emad Aldujaili, lead researcher at the School of Health Sciences, Dietetics, Nutrition & Biological Sciences at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, said:  “There is no doubt that pomegranate juice is beneficial in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease because our results showed a significant and consistent lowering of blood pressure.”

In the latest test, 24 healthy volunteers consumed 500ml of Pomegreat Pure every day for four weeks.  Both systolic and diastolic blood pressure was lowered by an average 5 mmHg (milligrams of mercury) – and by up to 12 mmHg in one case.  Dr Aldujaili will present his findings at the International Functional Food meeting at Oxford Brookes  University in November.

An unexpected outcome of the research was an early indication that pomegranate juice may redistribute weight around the body, moving flab away from bellies and muffin tops.

The study showed a significant reduction in plasma NEFA (a measure of blood composition) following 4-week consumption of Pomegreat Pure fruit juice in 11 out of 19 subjects.   A reduction in plasma NEFA may indicate a reduction in waist circumference.

Dr Emad Aldujaili: “There is early evidence that consumption of pure pomegranate juice may influence weight re-distribution.  We believe that these initial finding merit examination in a more detailed study.  The subjects in our latest study had a healthy body mass index, making the impact more difficult to observe.  In future research we will investigate the effect on overweight or obese subjects in whom the impact will be more evident.”

Pomegreat’s chief executive Adam Pritchard said: “We are encouraged by the results of this study.  Blood pressure is a real issue for many people and firm evidence of the effect of pomegranate juice is positive news.  We’re excited, also, by the early indications that pomegranate juice may shift middle age spread – or younger age spread for that matter – and we are exploring options for a more detailed investigation with the team at Queen Mary University.”