Eating grapes may reduce the risk factors known as the metabolic syndrome, according to researchers at the University of Michigan Health System. These risk factors include obesity and hypertension that often lead to diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
To test the effects of grapes on the development of heart disease and metabolic syndrome researchers used a breed of rats prone to develop metabolic syndrome. They divided the rats into two groups and fed a high-fat diet to one of the groups, while the other group received the same diet but supplemented with grape powder mixed from regular table grapes.
After three months, the rats that received the grape-enriched diet had lower blood pressure, better heart function, and reduced indicators of inflammation in the heart and the blood than rats who received no grape powder. Rats also had lower triglycerides and improved glucose tolerance.
“The possible reasoning behind the lessening of metabolic syndrome is that the phytochemicals (Grapes contain phytochemicals - a naturally occurring antioxidants) were active in protecting the heart cells from the damaging effects of metabolic syndrome. In the rats, inflammation of the heart and heart function was maintained far better,” says Steven Bolling, M.D (Steven Bolling, M.D. – heart surgeon at the U-M Cardiovascular Center and head of the U-M Cardioprotection Research Laboratory)
Further study is needed to determine the effect grapes and other dark fruits have in preventing metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease in humans.