High cholesterol is a problem for many of us as we age with fingers pointing to a lack of exercise and western diets, with foods high in saturates regularly consumed. According to a recent study there is one anti-inflammatory food that slashes bad levels in weeks and which is readily available in most supermarkets – grapes.
A University of California study led by nutritionist and professor of medicine Zhoaping Li, published in the journal Nutrients, that the gut friendly grape could cut cholesterol to acceptable levels within four weeks. The finding also suggests that the food could help to avert strokes and heart attacks.
Professor Li said: “We found the grapes have a beneficial effect on gut bacteria, which is great news since a healthy gut is critical to good health. This study depends on our knowledge and expands the range of health benefits for grapes, even as the study reinforces the heart health benefits of grapes with lowered cholesterol.”
The study into cholesterol
It is widely recognised that polyphenols, micronutrients that occur naturally in plants, have anti-inflammatory qualities. This study took that knowledge and looked at the stomach microbials of 19 healthy subjects who consumed a low-polyphenol and low-fibre diet during a period of four weeks.
After the four weeks the subjects were given another 46 grams of powdered grape each day for a further four weeks, whilst continuing on the same diet.
Stool and urine samples were then taken allowing researchers to assess the microbial diversity in the participants’ guts. What they found is an increase in Akkermansia, a bacteria renowned for its beneficial effect on glucose and lipid metabolism. In addition they found improved integrity of the intestinal lining along with a marked decr4ease in blood cholesterol, with levels of total cholesterol falling by 6.1 percent and LDL cholesterol by 5.9 percent.
Levels of bile acids, which play a role in cholesterol metabolism, fell by 40.9 percent.
Although the study was small in size, the findings are said to be particularly useful in the prevention of cardiovascular disease. With around 17 milllion people a year in the UK alone being diagnosed with cholesterol and hypertension, the information could provide a better and more effective alternative to current medicinal treatments.
It remains unclear whether other types of fruit and vegetables have the same effect with the researchers not having replications the study with other foods. Based on previous research, it is clear that diets high in fresh vegetables are known to have beneficial effects.
For many the news that grapes are anti-inflammatory food that slashes ‘bad’ cholesterol levels in weeks will be widely welcomed as an alternate to statins, which often come with side effects.
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