Grapes may be answer to lower blood pressure: study

October 29th, 2008 - 3:13 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Oct 29 (IANS) Grapes could be a palatable, healthy way of fighting blood pressure caused by a salty diet, besides keeping the heart in fine fettle, an experiment on laboratory mice has suggested. A new University of Michigan (U-M) Cardiovascular Centre study has thrown up tantalising clues to the potential of grapes in reducing cardiovascular risk, inherent in phytochemicals, antioxidants in grapes.

The study was performed on laboratory mice, to study the effect of regular table grapes (a blend of green, red, and black grapes) that were mixed in mice diet in a powdered form, as part of either a high or low-salt diet.

They performed many comparisons between the mice consuming the test diet and the control mice receiving no grape powder - including some that received a mild dose of a common blood-pressure (BP) drug.

All the rats were from a research breed that develops high blood pressure when fed a salty diet.

In all, after 18 weeks, the rats that received the grape-enriched diet powder had lower BP, better heart function, reduced inflammation throughout their bodies, and fewer signs of heart muscle damage than the rats that ate the same salty diet but didn’t receive grapes.

The rats that received BP medicine, hydrazine, along with a salty diet also had lower BP, but their hearts were not protected from damage as they were in the grape-fed group, according to an UM press release.

Mitchell Seymour, who led the research as part of his doctoral work in nutrition science at Michigan State University said: “These findings support our theory that something within the grapes themselves has a direct impact on cardiovascular risk, beyond the simple blood pressure-lowering impact that we already know can come from a diet rich in fruits and vegetables.”

Seymour manages the U-M Cardioprotection Research Lab, which is headed by U-M heart surgeon Steven Bolling.

Bolling, who is a professor of cardiac surgery at the U-M Medical School, noted that animals in the study were in a similar situation to millions of Americans, who have high BP related to diet, and who develop heart failure over time because of prolonged hypertension.

“The inevitable downhill sequence to hypertension and heart failure was changed by the addition of grape powder to a high-salt diet,” he said.

These findings were published in the October issue Journal of Gerontology: Biological Sciences.

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