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Can Snacking On Grapes Improve Your Heart’s Health?

February is American Heart Health Month. Although most of us recognize that fresh fruit constitutes a healthy snack, research shows that grapes go above and beyond this call by offering outstanding heart health benefits.

Can Snacking On Grapes Improve Your Heart's Health? Pin on Pinterest

For many people, a combination of prescribed medications and lifestyle changes make the difference between being gravely ill from cardiovascular disease and being healthy. Although some essential lifestyle changes require transforming major habits, new research points to eating grapes as a relatively simple way to ward off heart disease.

Ranking at the top of America’s health woes, heart disease is one of the most dangerous ailments of all time. Despite it killing more Americans each year than anything else, heart disease is a largely preventable problem. Some people have higher risk factors for heart disease than others. Common risk factors include:

  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • A family history of heart disease

Healthy Heart Lifestyle

No matter what someone’s risk is, adopting a healthy lifestyle can dramatically decrease the development or worsening of heart disease. Most experts suggest the following four healthy lifestyle components:

  1. Diet – A heart healthy diet puts an emphasis on fruits and vegetables and restricts foods with saturated fat.
  2. Exercise – At least 30 minutes a day of aerobic activity greatly improves cardiovascular function.
  3. Alcohol – Small amounts may be beneficial, but one drink a day for women and two for men are considered to be the largest acceptable quantity for living healthfully.
  4. Smoking – Even though it is considered to be the hardest lifestyle change, quitting smoking is the most effective way to avert heart disease.

Grapes

Technically falling under the dietary section of lifestyle changes, grapes appear to have a powerful beneficial effect on the cardiovascular system. Grapes are believed to reduce heart disease by relaxing blood vessels – thus allowing the blood to flow more easily.

To find out more about the effect of grapes on cardiovascular disease risk, scientists at the University of Michigan Health System conducted a telling study. The details of this study are as follows:

  • Researchers fed rats prone to being overweight a typical high-fat American diet.
  • Selected rats were also fed a powdered mixture of red, green and black grapes.
  • To prevent results from being skewed, researchers added calories and sugars to the control group (rats only eating a typical high-fat American diet) to balance the extra calories and sugars gained from getting the grape powder.
  • After three months of these eating patterns, the rats receiving the grape-enriched diet had lower blood pressure, better heart function and reduced indicators of inflammation than the rats receiving no grape powder.
  • In addition, the grape-fed rats had fewer symptoms of metabolic syndrome, a precursor to Type II diabetes that affects about 50 million Americans and is a risk factor for heart disease.

Although this University of Michigan study was partially supported by the California Table Grape Commission (who also supplied the grape powder), the researchers assert that the commission played no role in the study’s design, conduct, analysis or preparation of the presentation. However, the results of this study have not yet been extrapolated to people. Thus, there is not yet a way to confidently predict a cup per day of grape powder equivalency for human heart health. Despite this deficiency, researchers believe their study demonstrates that a grape-enriched diet can have broad effects on the prevention of heart disease and metabolic syndrome.

Grapes, whether in powdered form or eaten whole, are likely to gain recognition as potential players in averting cardiovascular disease. Until results of more clinical trials evaluating the ideal quantity of grapes for heart health are revealed, those who are concerned about blood pressure, diabetes or any other heart-related risk have little to lose by regularly snacking on grapes.

Editor’s Note: HeartCare┬« supports normal heart function, normal platelet function, as well as normal cholesterol and lipid levels.

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/life/main/6979453.html, Grapes may protect your heart, Retrieved May 12, 2010, The Houston Chronicle, 2010.

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/food-and-nutrition/AN00576, Grape juice: Same heart benefits as wine?, Martha Grogan, MD, Retrieved May 13, 2010, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 2010.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19904214, Modulation of monocrotaline-induced cor pulmonale by grape juice, Ludke AR, et al, Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology, January 2010.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19770673, Grapes, wines, resveratrol, and heart health, Bertelli AA, et al, Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology, December 2009.

http://www.uchospitals.edu/specialties/heart/services/prevention/prevent-CVD.html, Take Heart! Heart Disease Is Preventable, Retrieved May 14, 2010, University of Chicago Medical Center, 2010.

http://www2.med.umich.edu/prmc/media/newsroom/details.cfm?ID=1561, Grapes reduce risks for heart disease and diabetes, U-M animal study shows, Retrieved May 14, 2010, University of Michigan Health System, April 2010.

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