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One fruit you need if you have high blood pressure

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
UM study: Grapes found to prevent heart failure from high blood pressure

Researchers have discovered how a small, tasty fruit turns on genes to reduce heart damage that can lead to heart failure associated with high blood pressure. Scientists have uncovered how grapes work to boost an important antioxidant to keep the heart stronger and more flexible.

The antioxidant is taken by many as a supplement. But can you get the same effect from an antioxidant pill?

Grapes change genes to protect from heart failure

The researchers discovered for the first time that grapes change genes to boost an important heart antioxidant known as glutathione.

The antioxidant is important. Mark Hyman, MD , writing on the Huffington Post, describes glutathione as the “mother of all antioxidants “.

The body manufactures the antioxidant that can be depleted by stress, pollution, certain medications, aging and poor diet.

The new study appearing in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry found grapes boost antioxidant activity in the heart where glutathione is abundant.

The study

University of Michigan researchers have been studying grapes for heart health for several years. Scientists supplemented the diet of rats fed a high fat diet with grape powder, finding the fruit antioxidant protects the heart from becoming enlarged and ‘stiff’ from fibrosis, which can affect heart function and lead to heart failure.

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Over time, hypertension gradually and silently affects the heart by causing artery damage and narrowing from the consistent effect of pressure against the artery walls. The result can also lead to heart attack and heart enlargement.

Scientists have known grapes are good for the heart and can lower blood pressure. But they have suspected there is more to how grapes help cardiovascular health that goes beyond their positive effect on hypertension.

The pressure on the arteries also causes the heart to weaken over time as it pumps harder from vascular resistance. Eventually, the heart fails to remove fluids from the body, leading to swelling, shortness of breath and weakness which are characteristic symptoms of heart failure, that has a variety of causes in addition to hypertension..

The new finding expands on the above previous research from University of Michigan scientists. This time the researchers fed rats with hypertension and prone to heart failure a grape-enriched diet for 18 weeks.

High blood pressure also causes the left side of the heart to enlarge, which is what leads to fibrosis and stiffening; making it pump less effectively.

This time however they found how grapes work to change genes to boost antioxidant capacity of heart cells. The finding also suggests adding more antioxidant foods, but perhaps not supplements can also have a protective effect against heart failure
Some antioxidant supplements, taken in high doses can promote diseases like cancer., making the study of whole foods important.

Lead investigator E. Mitchell Seymour, Ph.D. explains grapes were known to protect from heart failure, but until now, how they worked was unknown. If you have high blood pressure; especially if you have difficulty controlling it, consider adding grapes to your diet. A handful of grapes a day might keep heart failure that happens from high blood pressure at bay.

University of Michigan

Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry
March 25, 2013