November 2/Healthcare Mergers, Acquisitions & Ventures Week -- New results presented at the Second International Symposium on Human Health Effects of Fruits and Vegetables in Houston, Texas, last week showed that a grape-enriched diet improved cardiac function, prevented enlargement of the heart and kidneys, and reduced cardiac and renal oxidative damage in rats prone to heart failure.

The research showed that grape antioxidants significantly decrease the hallmarks of heart failure pathology. The study, conducted at the University of Michigan, showed that compared to the control group, the grape-enriched diet significantly decreased blood pressure and protected against cardiac remodeling where the heart becomes enlarged and the heart tissue becomes more rigid. The grape-rich diet also improved functional cardiac output per minute, and reduced oxidative stress and inflammation markers. The study results suggest that regular grape consumption accumulates to provide a beneficial impact over the long term.

Heart failure occurs when the heart is no longer able to meet the oxygen demands of the body. This can result from a loss of functional heart tissue, infection, heart valve abnormalities, or hypertension.

"This research highlights a critical new facet of the beneficial impact of grapes on heart health," said Kathleen Nave, president of the California Table Grape Commission. "While the positive effects of grapes on blood pressure and blood vessel health are well-established, this study demonstrates the significant long term benefits of eating grapes on hypertension-related diseases, including the prevention of organ damage."

Over 90% of heart failure cases are preceded by hypertension, which is a major health issue in the U.S. today: there are an estimated 500,000 new cases diagnosed each year, approximately 60,000 deaths due to hypertension and over $15 billion spent in hospitals to treat this disease. Hypertension is the number one diagnosis for those over the age of 65.

From the November 5, 2007, Prepared Foods e-Flash