New Study Shows Fresh Grapes Protect the Heart Like Wine

FRESNO, Calif., Nov. 8 /PRNewswire/ -- According to an article just published in the November 2002 Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology, eating fresh grapes provides the same heart-health benefits touted for red wine.

A growing body of research suggests that the polyphenols in wine and juice -- polyphenols also found in table grapes -- are largely responsible for the well-publicized health benefits of red wine. In this latest study, researchers at the University of Connecticut tested whether grapes and their component polyphenols are also heart-protective. They found that table grapes from California protected the heart and blood vessels against oxidative tissue damage, similar to the effects of red wine.

Table grapes and wine contain many of the same polyphenols -- disease- fighting phytonutrients such as resveratrol, anthocyanins, catechins, and quercetin. In this new study, researchers confirmed that grape polyphenols are effective antioxidants in two ways. Grape polyphenols scooped up and inactivated free radicals. Grapes also reduced by half the production of malondialdehyde, a by-product of oxidation.

In the same study, researchers tested the protective effect of the polyphenol-rich grapes in a model that mimics what happens during and after a heart attack. Deprivation and re-introduction of blood to the heart and blood vessels can lead to inflammation, blood loss and permanent tissue damage. The damage is due in part to a dramatic rise in free radicals, which overwhelms the heart's normal antioxidant mechanisms that counteract free radical action. California table grape consumption improved blood flow and heart pumping capacity, and reduced the area of tissue death after a heart attack. Researchers attributed these effects mainly to the antioxidant effect of grapes.

"Several investigators now believe fresh grapes and wine are equally cardioprotective," said Dr. Dipak K. Das, principal investigator on the study. "In the past I studied individual grape polyphenols, which are antioxidants and highly cardioprotective, and now have worked with whole grapes, which have the same effects."

For years, researchers have told us that drinking wine is good for the heart. More recently, grape juice was shown to help reduce susceptibility of LDL to oxidation and blood's tendency to form clots. This latest research shows that fresh grapes also provide antioxidant protection.

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