Protect the NHS, protect your health

So cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the biggest killer of men and women worldwide and the heart disease that causes the majority of these deaths are mostly avoidable? You’re saying many parents could have had a very good chance of meeting their grandchildren and living a longer life by following some lifestyle changes? That's right, the science states that healthy lifestyle choices may reduce the risk of a heart attack by 81-94%, [1-5] whereas drugs reduce it by only 20-30% [6].

When I found this out, and that this information was stuck in scientific research papers that we rarely hear about, let alone read, it angered me. Millions of lives worldwide are being stopped too early. Families being torn apart unnecessarily, leaving children without a Mum or Dad.

​For those people who died prematurely from heart disease, sudden death from this condition is commonly the first and last symptom [7]. Imagine the first symptom of other common illnesses being fatal, a runny nose, for example, being the first symptom of a cold. This is the savage reality of heart disease and means we need to take action before our arteries take destructive action against us.

One way in which we can help ourselves is through changing what we eat, foods that boost your nitric oxide levels help by relaxing our blood vessels [8]. Great sources of nitrate, which is what boosts our nitric oxide levels, are beetroot and rocket (arugula). So have a bag ready of these potent greens and some beets in the fridge to grate onto salads and other meals.

I know what you’re thinking, aren’t nitrates found in processed meats that are meant to be bad for us? You’re absolutely right, nitrates cooked in the presence of high levels of sodium and protein converts nitrate into nitrosamines [9]. These nitrosamines are known cancer promotors [10] and are some of the main cancer-causing agents in tobacco smoke, for example.

This is a similar story to iron, the mineral vital to correct red blood formation, among other actions. When coming from plants it has many benefits throughout our body. When sourced from animal sources it has the capacity to increase type 2 diabetes [11] and cancer risk [12].

So let’s take responsibility for our own health rather than leaving up to the NHS to pick up the pieces and use this information to make informed decisions. What you do with this knowledge is completely up to you, but it’s better to be aware how you’re harming your body having considered the pros and cons than consuming foods without knowing the long term catastrophic outcomes it can lead to.

The optimal option here is to directly swap processed meat for rocket and beetroot. These plants are packed with nitrates which help lower blood pressure [13-15] and increase the efficiency of oxygen usage [16], completely flipping the odds in your favour.

In no way is this information meant to replace the advice given by your doctor, always follow the advice of your health professional. Inform your doctor if you are making any large changes to your lifestyle.

As always, don't just take our word for it, have a read through some of the evidence we use which is all referenced below.


1] Yusuf S, Hawken S, Ounpuu S, et al. Effect of potentially modifiable risk factors associated with myocardial infarction in 52 countries (the INTERHEART study): case control study. Lancet 2004;364(9438):937–52.

2] Ford ES, Bergmann MM, Kröger J, Schienkiewitz A, Weikert C, Boeing H. Healthy living is the best revenge: findings from the European Prospective Investig.

3] Chiuve SE, McCullough ML, Sacks FM, Rimm EB. Healthy lifestyle factors in the primary prevention of coronary heart disease among men: benefits among users and nonusers of lipid-lowering and antihypertensive medications. Circulation 2006;114(2):160-7

4] Stampfer MJ, Hu FB, Manson JE, et al. Primary prevention of coronary heart disease in women through diet and lifestyle. N Engl J Med 2000; 343: 16–22.

5] Chiuve, S.E., Rexrode, K.M., Spiegelman, D., Logroscino, G., Manson, J.E. and Rimm, E.B., 2008. Primary prevention of stroke by healthy lifestyle. Circulation, 118(9), p.947.

6] BHF analysis of European Cardiovascular Disease Statistics 2017, EHN (www.ehnheart.org/cvd-statistics/cvd-statistics-2017.html) [accessed 18/06/2020].

7] Myerburg, R.J. and Junttila, M.J., 2012. Sudden cardiac death caused by coronary heart disease. Circulation, 125(8), pp.1043-1052.

8] Moncada S, Higgs EA. Nitric oxide and the vascular endothelium. Handb Exp Pharmacol. 2006;(176 Pt 1):213-254. doi:10.1007/3-540-32967-6_7

9] Scanlan RA. Formation and occurrence of nitrosamines in food. Cancer Res. 1983;43(5 Suppl):2435s-2440s.

10] Brown JL. N-Nitrosamines. Occupational Medicine (Philadelphia, Pa.). 1999 Oct-Dec;14(4):839-848.

11] Bao W, Rong Y, Rong S, Liu L. Dietary iron intake, body iron stores, and the risk of type 2 diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Med. 2012;10:119. Published 2012 Oct 10. doi:10.1186/1741-7015-10-119

12] Fonseca-Nunes A, Jakszyn P, Agudo A. Iron and cancer risk--a systematic review and meta-analysis of the epidemiological evidence. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2014;23(1):12-31. doi:10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-13-0733

13] Kapil V., Khambata R.S., Robertson A., Caulfield M.J., Ahluwalia A. Dietary nitrate provides sustained blood pressure lowering in hypertensive patients: A randomized, phase 2, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Hypertension. 2015;65:320–327. doi: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.114.04675.

14] Berry M.J., Justus N.W., Hauser J.I., Case A.H., Helms C.C., Basu S., Miller G.D. Dietary nitrate supplementation improves exercise performance and decreases blood pressure in COPD patients. Nitric Oxide. 2015;48:22–30. doi: 10.1016/j.niox.2014.10.007.

15] Ashworth A., Mitchell K., Blackwell J.R., Vanhatalo A., Jones A.M. High-nitrate vegetable diet increases plasma nitrate and nitrite concentrations and reduces blood pressure in healthy women. Public Health Nutr. 2015;18:2669–2678. doi: 10.1017/S1368980015000038.

16] V Kapil, R S Khambata, A Robertson, M J Caulfield, A Ahluwalia. Dietary nitrate provides sustained blood pressure lowering in hypertensive patients: a randomized, phase 2, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Hypertension. 2015 Feb;65(2):320-7.