Researchers from the University of Connecticut report improvements in several cardiovascular risk factors in conjunction with supplementation with powdered grapes by men with metabolic syndrome, a cluster of factors associated with an elevated risk of diabetes and heart disease. The findings were reported in an article published online on July 18, 2012 in the Journal of Nutrition.
Dr Maria Luz Fernandez and her colleagues randomized 24 men aged 30 to 70 to receive a placebo or freeze dried grape polyphenol powder for 30 days, followed by a three week period of no treatment. Participants then underwent another 30 days during which their previous treatments were switched. Blood pressure, brachial artery flow-mediated vasodilation (an assessment of endothelial function), plasma soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1 and soluble vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (which have been associated with the development of coronary heart disease), and other factors were measured before and after each treatment period.
Supplementation with powdered grape resulted in a decrease in systolic blood pressure and plasma soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1, in addition to improved endothelial function. The authors conclude that grapes "may potentiate vasorelaxation and reduce blood pressure and circulating cell adhesion molecules, resulting in improvements in vascular function."
The study is the first, to the researchers knowledge, to examine the effect of grape intake on the metabolic syndrome. "These results suggest that consuming grapes can improve important risk factors associated with heart disease, in a population that is already at higher risk," stated Dr Fernandez, who is affiliated with the University of Connecticut's Department of Nutritional Sciences. "This further supports the accumulating evidence that grapes can positively influence heart health, and extends it to men with metabolic syndrome."
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