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Can eating grapes mitigate the negative effects of a diet high in salt on blood pressure and, by extension, heart disease? Researchers at Michigan State report that grapes could lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation in the body and reduce signs of heart muscle damage, and suggest these effects are due in part to the naturally occurring antioxidants grapes contain.
The investigators tested a powdered form of grapes in lab rats. One group was fed a high salt diet and a control group was given a low salt diet. They then compared results to rats on a high salt diet that contained no grape powder. Some of the rats also were given a blood pressure drug (hydrazine) along with their high salt diet. The drug worked to lower blood pressure but didn’t protect the rats’ hearts as did the powdered grapes.
The lead researcher concluded that something in the grapes “has a direct impact on cardiovascular risk” beyond the blood pressure-lowering effect. The amount of grapes the rats were fed was the equivalent of a human consuming nine servings of grapes per day. The researchers called their results extremely encouraging but noted a need for more research on the subject