April 27, 2009

Eating Grapes for a Healthy Heart

The secret to a healthy heart may now include grapes, recently shown to lower blood pressure, lessen signs of heart muscle damage, and cause an overall better functioning in the heart.

A diet filled with fruits and vegetables is known to lower blood pressure, but a new study from the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center demonstrates the health effects of grapes reach a new level. The study used groups of twelve rats, specially bred to obtain a high blood pressure from a high salty diet, similar to Americans with diet-caused high blood pressure.

The rats incorporated either grape powder accounting for 3 percent of their diet or a blood pressure medicine, hydrazine, into a high salty diet. After 18 weeks, both groups held a lower blood pressure, but only those who ate grapes demonstrated better heart function and fewer signs of muscle damage.

Heart cells create glutathione, an antioxidant rich protein responsible for defending against damaging oxidative stress. High blood pressure reduces this production. However, the consumption of grapes increased the production of glutathione, explaining why grapes may lead to a better functioning heart.

SOURCE: Presented at the 2009 Experimental Biology convention in New Orleans