Grapes deliver the perfect dose of heart-healthy antioxidants

Oxidative stress is like kryptonite for your heart. It’s tied to atherosclerosis (clogged arteries), high blood pressure, cardiac fibrosis (scarring), plaque rupture, arterial blood clots and even heart failure.

In case you forgot exactly what oxidative stress is, it’s a physiological process that happens when the free radicals in your body outnumber the antioxidants. Antioxidants typically counteract free radicals. But when there’s not enough around, free radicals start to damage your cells, which triggers aging and disease.

The good news is that there are a lot of antioxidants found in everyday foods that fend off oxidative stress — glutathione, resveratrol and quercetin. And guess which fruit contains all these oxidative stress-slaying antioxidants combined?

The oh-so-great (and delicious!) grape!

Go ga-ga for grapes for your heart’s sake

In case you don’t already know, grapes are one of the most antioxidant-filled foods around. They even contain an antioxidant so potent it’s earned nicknames like the “mother of all antioxidants,” the “master antioxidant” and the “ultimate antioxidant.” The antioxidant I’m talking about is glutathione.

Glutathione has been shown in research studies to lower blood pressure, and a lack of glutathione has been connected to a higher risk of heart failure. People tend to produce less glutathione with age, which may be part of the reason why heart diseases become a lot more common as you get older. But grapes could be just the thing you need to fill the glutathione gap…

A study conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan found that natural chemicals in grapes help the heart produce extra glutathione.

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In the study, lab animals who ate grapes had a lower risk of heart enlargement and fibrosis. Heart function improved, and the grapes were found to activate the heart’s antioxidant defenses, boosting the gene activity that results in extra glutathione production.

But boosting your glutathione production isn’t the only benefit grapes have for your heart. Grapes also contain the antioxidants quercetin and resveratrol, which have been shown to lower the risk of atherosclerosis and prevent heart damage triggered by LDL (bad) cholesterol. Resveratrol is known for fighting inflammation and lowering cholesterol levels as well. Grapes are also chock-full of fiber and potassium, both of which are known to lower blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease.

Harness grapes’ heart health benefits

All in all, grapes are pretty dang heart healthy. So, make sure you’re eating plenty of them. Since you typically eat the skins on grapes, you’ll want to go out of your way to buy organic… especially considering grapes often end up on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list.

You should also know that red grapes and Concord grapes tend to be the highest in healthy antioxidants. So, look for those varieties when you’re shopping.

Once you’ve got a delicious bag of grapes in your fridge, there are plenty of ways to incorporate them into your daily diet ­— eat them as an afternoon snack, pop some in the freezer and have them as a cool treat or add them to vegetable or chicken salads. However you choose to eat more of them, you’ll be giving your body the antioxidants it needs to fend off free radicals and keep your heart healthy.

Editor’s note: There are numerous safe and natural ways to decrease your risk of blood clots including the 25-cent vitamin, the nutrient that acts as a natural blood thinner and the powerful herb that helps clear plaque. To discover these and more, click here for Hushed Up Natural Heart Cures and Common Misconceptions of Popular Heart Treatments!

Sources:

  1. The role of oxidative stress in the pathophysiology of hypertension — Hypertension Research.
  2. Diet-relevant phytochemical intake affects the cardiac AhR and nrf2 transcriptome and reduces heart failure in hypertensive rats — The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.
  3. What are the health benefits of grapes? — Medical News Today.
  4. Grapes: Health Benefits & Nutrition Facts — LiveScience.
  5. Top 12 Health Benefits of Eating Grapes — Healthline.
  6. A new model takes oxidative stress to heart — MedicalXpress.
  7. Oxidative Stress and Inflammation in Heart Disease: Do Antioxidants Have a Role in Treatment and/or Prevention? — International Journal of Inflammation.

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Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine, TheFix.com, Hybridcars.com and Seedstock.com.