Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Drink This. Prevent Heart Disease?

A glass of apple juice a day may keep the doctor away.

Purple grapes, apples and especially their juices can prevent the development of atherosclerosis even if you eat a high-fat, high-cholesterol diet. At least it works in hamsters, and researchers from the Universite Montpellier in France are convinced this could have a "major impact" on public health, reports Reuters.

Fruit juices appear to have a more powerful anti-atherosclerotic effect than the fruit itself, according to lead study author Dr. Kelly Decorde. The key? It's in the processing of the fruit.

The study: The French team fed five groups of hamsters one of the following: purple grapes, purple grape juice, apples, apple juice or water, along with a diet designed to promote atherosclerosis, which is the buildup of fatty plaque deposits in the arteries that can lead to heart attacks or strokes. The amount of fruit they were given was equivalent to three apples or three bunches of grapes daily for human beings. Reuters notes that the apples and grapes had about the same phenol content, while the purple grape juice had 2.5 times more phenols than apple juice. A sixth group of hamsters served as the control group and were fed normal chow and water.

The results: Compared with the control group of hamsters, those who consumed the fruit or fruit juice had lower cholesterol levels, less oxidative stress and less fat accumulation in their aorta, which is the main vessel supplying oxygenated blood to the body, reports Reuters. Purple grape juice had the strongest effect, followed by purple grapes, apple juice and apples. The amount of phenols in food or drink has a direct effect on its antioxidant properties.

Decorde's team writes in the journal of Molecular Nutrition and Food Research that this "provides encouragement that fruit and fruit juices may have a significant clinical and public health relevance."

--From the Editors at Netscape


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