Despite the fact that cardiovascular disease is the single most deadly disease in the United States, most individuals, including most mainstream physicians, have a flawed fundamental understanding of the disease. The fact is, long before any symptoms are clinically evident, vascular disease begins as a malfunction of specialized cells that line our arteries. These cells, called endothelial cells, are the key to atherosclerosis and underlying endothelial dysfunction is the central feature of this dreaded disease.
Experiments have shown that the benefits of resveratrol include improvements in the health of the endothelial tissue lining blood vessels (Balestrieri, 2007; Ungvari, 2007; Wang, 2007; Ballard, 2007). One mechanism by which it does this is to facilitate the generation of endothelial progenitor stem cells, thereby providing the endothelium with fresh new cells.
Resveratrol benefits the circulatory system by eliciting a decrease in the oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL); by fostering decreases in platelet aggregation; and by promoting relaxation of small blood vessels called arterioles (Nissen, 2006; Taylor, 2002; Crouse, 2007; Cloarec, 2007). Collectively, these mechanisms benefit the overall health of the cardiovascular system by decreasing factors that contribute to the development of atherosclerosis, and by decreasing the likelihood of undesirable clotting, which, in turn, decreases the risk of stroke (Opie, 2007). Furthermore, data indicate that resveratrol decreases the incidence of dangerous heart arrhythmias (Chen, 2007).
In spontaneously hypertensive rats, quercetin, along with other bioflavonoids, preserved endothelial function by increasing nitric oxide and reducing blood pressure (Machha, 2005).
A porcine study showed that quercetin has potent antioxidative properties and protects endothelial cells against induced dysfunction (Reiterer, 2004). Quercetin and resveratrol may work particularly well together.
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