Researchers at the University of Michigan, US, have found that eating grapes could slow a “downhill sequence” of high blood pressure (BP) and insulin resistance, risk factors for metabolic syndrome, which can lead to heart disease and diabetes. The findings were presented last week at an Experimental Biology 2010 convention in California.
The researchers fed laboratory rats green, red and black grapes in powder form alongside a high-fat, American-style diet. After three months, the rats on the grape-enriched diet had lower BP, better heart function, reduced indicators of inflammation in the heart and blood, lower triglycerides and improved glucose tolerance than a control group that had no grape powder.
Heart surgeon Steven Bolling, head of the university’s Cardioprotection Research Laboratory, suggested that the protective effect may be due to phytochemicals, and that a diet higher in phytochemical-rich fruits may benefit humans, but he added that those trying to lower BP and reduce risk of diabetes should follow tried-and-true advice: Eat a healthy diet low in saturated fats, trans-fats and cholesterol, maintain a desirable weight, and exercise more.