Grapes, grape-based products may boost heart health

CONCORD, Mass. Two scientific papers published in Nutrition Reviews and the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition addressed a link between heart health and a diet that includes grapes or grape-based products.

Both studies found that grapes and grape products, including Concord grape juice, may promote cardiovascular health. Specifically, the study published in Nutrition Reviews found that grapes, which contain natural plant nutrients called polyphenols, can help maintain healthy, flexible arteries and manage LDL or "bad" cholesterol.

"Grape products can be a wise choice for a healthy lifestyle," said review co-author Maria Luz Fernandez with the department of nutritional sciences at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Conn. "Grapes and grape juice are easy ways to take a proactive step in maintaining health."

Meanwhile, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study, M.M. Dohadwala and colleagues examined the role of Concord grape juice in maintaining healthy blood pressure. Study participants included 64 adult men and women with an early stage of high blood pressure classified as either pre-hypertension or stage-1 hypertension. This study showed that drinking Concord grape juice helped lower nocturnal or night-time blood pressure (an indicator of healthy blood pressure regulation), and had a beneficial impact on blood sugar levels compared with a calorie-matched, grape-flavored drink. The study authors noted, however, that more science is needed to confirm these findings, and that the researchers found no significant effect on blood pressure measured over a 24-hour period.

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