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RNS: Grapes may aid a bunch of heart risk factors,
U-M animal study finds

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RNS: Grapes and hypertension, Oct. 29, 2008

U-M Health Minute: Today’s top health issues and medical research

Grapes may aid a bunch of heart risk factors, U-M animal study finds

Research in rats shows that grape intake lowered blood pressure and signs of heart muscle damage, and improved heart function

Suggested lead: Eating grapes may be the key to helping fight high blood pressure related to a salty diet, according to new research from the University of Michigan Health System. Here’s Andi McDonnell with more.

Could eating grapes help fight high blood pressure related to a salty diet? And could grapes calm other factors that are also related to heart diseases such as heart failure?

A new University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center study suggests so – although so far, the effect has only been seen in laboratory rats.

U-M heart surgeon Dr. Steven F. Bolling (M.D.) explains…

“We have made some very interesting dietary modifications in these animals.  If you take the same animal and give that animal the same high salt, high fat, fast food diet, if you will, and you introduce an element such as grape, grape powder, their inevitable downhill sequence to hypertension and heart failure is changed.  And in fact, not all of them develop hypertension, not all of them develop heart failure and their time to death is much prolonged.  This grape powder seems to have a great effect at blocking this American diet problem we have.”

The new study, published in the October 2008 issue of the Journal of Gerontology: Biological Sciences, gives tantalizing clues to the potential of grapes in reducing cardiovascular risk. The effect is thought to be due to the high level of phytochemicals – naturally occurring antioxidants – that grapes contain.

But the researchers caution that much more study is needed before anything can be said about the potential of grapes to help humans who have heart failure or high blood pressure — or who want to keep themselves from developing these conditions.

Bolling tells us…

“Although it’s interesting to think about extrapolating directly from an animal model to human use in this, you can’t really.  Although it’s true that your mom told you to eat all your fruits and your vegetables and that’s probably a good idea, and we are learning a lot about what dark fruits, including grapes, do in this animal model about hypertension and heart failure, we would not directly tell patients to throw all their pills away and just eat grapes.”

In the meantime, Bolling says, people who want to lower their blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart failure, or help their weakened hearts retain as much pumping power as possible should follow tried-and-true advice: Cut down on the amount of salt you get through your food and drink.


Andi McDonnell, U-M Health System News.

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