Research Shows Eating Grapes Protects the Heart Like Wine

    FRESNO, Calif., July 8 /PRNewswire/ -- Until recently, research on the
 heart-protective benefits of grapes has focused mainly on wine and grape
 juice.  But what about grapes eaten fresh, known as table grapes?
     A growing body of research suggests that the polyphenols in wine and juice
 -- polyphenols also found in table grapes -- are largely responsible for the
 benefits.  In a study recently published in the Annals of the New York Academy
 of Sciences, 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 well-known 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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SOURCE California Table Grape Commission

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