Cardiologist, author, and heart health expert Dr. Sarah Samaan offers advice on how to live a heart smart life.See all posts »
Juice Up Your Heart
How grape juice and other fruit juices can improve your heart health.
The heart health benefits of wine are well established, although not so well understood. Wine is rich in substances known as polyphenols which are known to be heart protective. Resveratrol, one of the principal polyphemols in red wine, may also help to reduce inflammation and may even protect against cancer. But what if wine is not for you? Is there another way to get the benefits of polyphenols without the alcohol?
There is good evidence that dark fruit juices, including grape juice and pomegranate juice, can help our arteries dilate, improving blood flow. What we don’t know for certain is whether one juice, or juice combination, is superior to the rest. In February, 2010, a small study from cardiologists in Isfahan, Iran, reported that both pomegranate juice and grape juice appeared to have similar heart health benefits in children.
A German study published in this month’s scientific journal, Food and Function, evaluated the effects of several different types of fruit juices on the heart arteries of pigs. When all was said and done, the fruit juices that came out ahead included grape, blueberry, and cranberry. Blackcurrant, aronia, and lingonberry juice were also winners, while strawberry, apple, and blackberry juices fell short of the goal.
Juicing may be a quick and easy way to get your polyphenols, but don’t overlook the fact that much of the juice available in our stores is pumped full of sweeteners and additives. An even better choice is to eat the whole fruit. The fiber will fill you up and has added benefits for the heart and digestive system. And if neither wine nor juice strikes your fancy, you can get plenty of polyphenols from green tea and dark chocolate as well.
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