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Grape for Heart Health

Grape for Heart Health

Counter damage of high sodium and cholesterol

Excessive salt intake can cause hypertension, insomnia, pregnancy complications, kidney stones and bone loss.  One study estimates that there were over 1.8 million deaths in 2019 as a result of excess sodium consumption, while another suggests just a 15% reduction in dietary sodium could prevent about 8.5 million deaths over the next ten years.  If that alarms you, remember this - eating more whole foods could make a big difference, especially because processed, take-out-type fare accounts for 75% of the excess salt in our diets.  Research suggests eating more grapes in particular could help counter sodium’s damaging effects.

One Michigan State study found that when red, green and black grapes were powdered and mixed in with the high-salt feed in a lab model, they observed better heart function, reduced inflammation and lower blood pressure. For the sake of comparison, researchers exchanged the grapes for hypertension medication — which lowered blood pressure, as expected, but did not afford the same heart muscle protection provided by the grapes!

Another study examined how grape powder (the equivalent of two servings of table grapes) affected gut and cholesterol over four weeks.  Those with grapes added to diet, had improved gut diversity as well as significant reductions in total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol as well as downward trending LDL cholesterol. 

Although these studies used powdered grapes the benefits extend to whole grapes as well. Grapes in fact offer other benefits too!  According to ongoing research, drinking grape juice regularly may improve short-term memory, coordination and balance. Many of the benefits attributed to red wine — such as higher HDL (good) cholesterol — are also afforded by grape juice, without the risks of alcohol. And check this out: the body absorbs the anthocyanins that might be responsible for such benefits more easily from grape juice than from wine!

Get your dose of grapes with our Sweet Skillet Chicken or end your day with our Grape and Pomegranate Parfait!

Published February 1, 2023

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