It’s All In The Grape
For centuries, wine has been credited for a myriad of health benefits, however little is said about primary constituent. Consuming grapes protect against high blood pressure, ultraviolet radiation, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, alzheimer’s and even disables viruses. New research shows that grapes may also help protect against organ damage associated with the progression of metabolic syndrome.
The grape polyphenol powerhouse resveratrol, has been erroneously credited to the wine industry for years to further promote red wines around the world as healthy and even anti-aging beverages. However, the consumption of wine is not necessary to benefit from resveratrol–all you need are grapes and their seeds.
Compounds found in grapes help to protect skin cells from the sun’s ultraviolet radiation.
Grapes also have anti-fungal agents that help prevent cancer.
Resveratrol is believed to have an anti-aging effect as it boosts activity of a protein called SIRT.
Rats fed resveratrol do not develop insulin resistance or a loss of bone mineral density, as those who were not fed resveratrol.
The potential health benefits of resveratrol may be due to its ability to activate the powerful fat controlling hormone adiponectin.
Intake of grape seeds or grape seed extracts can also reduce blood pressure and protect against obesity-induced organ damage caused by high-fat diets.
In a study, led by investigator E. Mitchell Seymour, Ph.D., of the University of Michigan Health System, studied the effects of a high fat, American-style diet both with added grapes and without grapes (the control diet) on the heart, liver, kidneys, and fat tissue in obesity-prone rats. The grapes — a blend of red, green and black varieties — were provided as a freeze-dried grape powder and integrated into the animals’ diets for 90 days.
Specifically, the results showed that three months of a grape-enriched diet significantly reduced inflammatory markers throughout the body, but most significantly in the liver and in abdominal fat tissue. Consuming grapes also reduced liver, kidney and abdominal fat weight, compared with those consuming the control diet. Additionally, grape intake increased markers of antioxidant defense, particularly in the liver and kidneys.
Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions that occur together — increased blood pressure, a high blood sugar level, excess body fat around the waist or low HDL (the good cholesterol) and increased blood triglycerides — significantly increasing the risk for heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes. Intake of fruits and vegetables is thought to reduce these risks, and grapes have shown benefits in multiple studies. Metabolic syndrome is a major public health concern, and is on the rise in the U.S.
“Our study suggests that a grape-enriched diet may play a critical role in protecting against metabolic syndrome and the toll it takes on the body and its organs,” said Seymour. “Both inflammation and oxidative stress play a role in cardiovascular disease progression and organ dysfunction in Type 2 diabetes. Grape intake impacted both of these components in several tissues which is a very promising finding.”
This work extends and reinforces the findings of Seymour’s previously published research which demonstrated that a grape-enriched diet reduced risk factors for heart disease and diabetes in obesity-prone rats.
Written By Dave Mihalovic (PreventDiseases.com)