FRESNO, Calif., May 25 /PRNewswire/ -- A new study that appears in the
current issue of the Journal of Nutrition(1) shows that eating fresh grapes
may prevent the accumulation of harmful oxidized cholesterol as well as the
development of atherosclerotic lesions. Naturally occurring antioxidants in
fresh grapes known as polyphenols are believed to be responsible for this
In order to ensure the scientific validity of grape health studies, a
representative sample of fresh California grapes was collected and
freeze-dried into an edible grape powder. The grape powder used in this study
contains all of the biologically active compounds found in fresh grapes.
"We found a remarkable reduction in the development of atherosclerosis
following consumption of grape powder," said principal investigator Bianca
Fuhrman, Senior Scientist at the Lipid Research Laboratory headed by Dr.
Michael Aviram at the Rambam Medical Center in Israel. "Grapes contain an
abundance of powerful antioxidants that appear to inhibit an array of critical
factors that can cause atherosclerosis."
Atherosclerosis, also known as hardening of the arteries, is the result of
cholesterol build-up on the arterial wall, which leads to blockage of the
vessels that supply blood to the heart or the brain, resulting in a heart
attack or stroke, respectively. Blood cholesterol is carried throughout the
body by two lipoproteins. Low density lipoprotein (LDL), also known as the
"bad" cholesterol, deposits cholesterol in arterial walls when it is present
in excess. High density lipoprotein (HDL), or the "good" cholesterol, removes
the excess cholesterol from the arteries to the liver and out of the body.
When cholesterol is damaged by oxidation, such as oxidized LDL cholesterol, it
is more easily deposited in the arterial walls, leading to a blockage of the
vessels. Diseases caused by atherosclerosis are the leading cause of illness
and death in the U.S.(2)
Dr. Fuhrman's study showed that grape polyphenols reduced oxidative
stress, increased serum antioxidant capacity, reduced cell uptake of oxidized
LDL cholesterol and decreased the oxidation of LDL in general. These
processes eventually reduce the accumulation of cholesterol in the cells and
prevent foam cell formation, thus inhibiting the development of
"We are pleased to see studies such as this further the mounting evidence
that grapes exert a protective role in heart health," said Kathleen Nave,
president of the California Table Grape Commission. "Importantly, this work
provides insight that grapes impact a number of mechanisms that may lead to a
reduction in atherosclerosis."
(1) Journal of Nutrition, vol. 135, pp. 722-728, 2005.
(2) U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of
SOURCE California Table Grape Commission