Grapes reduce risk factors related to cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome

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COULD eating grapes slow what’s for many Americans a downhill sequence of high blood pressure and insulin resistance leading to heart disease and type 2 diabetes? Scientists at the University of Michigan Health System are teasing out clues to the effect of grapes in reducing risk factors related to cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome.
The effect is thought to be due to phytochemicals — naturally occurring antioxidants — that grapes contain. Findings from a new animal study will be presented April 26 at the Experimental Biology convention in Anaheim, Calif., and show encouraging results of a grape-enriched diet preventing risk factors for metabolic syndrome, a condition affecting an estimated 50 million Americans and is often a precursor to type 2 diabetes.
Researchers studied the effect of regular table grapes (a blend of green, red and black grapes) that were mixed into a powdered form and integrated into the diets of laboratory rats as part of a high-fat, American style diet. All of the rats used were from a research breed that is prone to being overweight.
They performed many comparisons between the rats consuming a grape-enriched diet and the control rats receiving no grape powder. Researchers added calories and sugars to the control group to balance the extra calories and sugars gained from getting the grape powder.
After three months, the rats that received the grape-enriched diet had lower blood pressure, better heart function, and reduced indicators of inflammation in the heart and the blood than rats who received no grape powder. Rats also had lower triglycerides and improved glucose tolerance.
The effects were seen even though the grape-fed animals had no change in body weight. In all, researchers say the study demonstrates that a grape-enriched diet can have broad effects on the development of heart disease and metabolic syndrome and the risk factors that go along with it.
“The possible reasoning behind the lessening of metabolic syndrome is that the phytochemicals were active in protecting the heart cells from the damaging effects of metabolic syndrome.

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