May 17, 2008

Fruit Juice Prevents Clogged Arteries

Researchers in France report that apples, purple grapes and juices made from the fruits, protect against the development of clogged arteries.  

In their study, the scientists fed hamsters either apples, grapes, apple juice, grape juice or water, along with a fatty diet, and discovered that those who consumed grape juice had the lowest probability of developing clogged arteries.

The research, conducted by scientists from the University of Montpellier and led by Kelly Decorde, found the benefits came from the juice's high levels of antioxidant phenols.

It has long been known that antioxidants in various foods are beneficial to heart health. However, most previous research had studied raw fruit. Instead, the French team examined how juicing affected the fruit's phenol content. 

Then they studied how the consumption of various kinds of fruit affected the hamsters' risk of atherosclerosis,  the accumulation of fatty plaque deposits in the arteries that can lead to strokes and heart attacks.

The amount of fruit the hamsters consumed was the human-equivalent of three apples or three bunches of grapes per day.  Hamsters given juice drank the human-equivalent of four glasses per day for a person weighing 154 pounds.

The grapes and apples had roughly the same phenol content, while the purple grape juice had 2.5 times more phenols than apple juice.

Compared with animals given water, those who consumed fruit or fruit juice had less oxidative stress, lower cholesterol levels and less fat accumulation in their aorta, the primary vessel that pumps oxygenated blood throughout the body.

The research found that purple grape juice had the strongest effect, followed by purple grapes, apple juice and apples.

The scientists say their findings indicate that the amount of phenols a food contains has a direct effect on its antioxidant properties. The other antioxidant compounds present in the fruits, such as vitamin C and carotenoids, may also contribute to their positive health effects, they added.

The team said their study "provides encouragement that fruit and fruit juices may have a significant clinical and public health relevance."

"High levels of antioxidants are recognized as being good for you," one British nutritionist told BBC News.


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University of Montpellier

The research was published in the journal Molecular Nutrition and Food Research reports.