Grapes Grapple with Metabolic Syndrome

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It’s high season for grapes, and consuming any variety of this sweet fruit—red, green or black— may help protect against organ damage associated with the progression of metabolic syndrome, according to new research presented at the 2013 Experimental Biology Conference, in Boston. Natural components in grapes, known as polyphenols, are thought to be responsible for this benefit.

Metabolic syndrome comprises a cluster of conditions—increased blood pressure, high blood sugar level, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels—that occur together, increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Working with lab animals, researchers found that three months of a grape-enriched diet significantly reduced inflammatory markers throughout the body, most significantly in the liver and abdominal fat tissue. The diet also reduced the fat weight of the animals’ liver, kidneys and abdomen compared with those that were on a control diet. The grape intake also increased markers of antioxidant defense, particularly in the liver and kidneys.

“Our study suggests that a grape-enriched diet may play a critical role in protecting against metabolic syndrome and the toll it takes on the body and its organs,” says lead investigator E. Mitchell Seymour, Ph.D., of the University of Michigan Health System. “Both inflammation and oxidative stress play a role in cardiovascular disease progression and organ dysfunction in Type 2 diabetes.

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