The Natural Way to Lower Cholesterol Could Be Close to Your Favorite Market Product Section: New Study in the Journal Nutrients It suggests that grapes may not only improve the heart health marker but also boost the diversity of beneficial gut bacteria.
Researchers asked 19 healthy adults to follow a diet low in fiber and polyphenols — the compound found in fruits and vegetables that reduce inflammation and help regulate blood pressure — for a month, to see how grape powder would affect them next. They continued on the same diet but added 46 grams of the powder, which is equivalent to two servings of fresh grapes, which comes in two cups.
After four weeks of taking grape powder daily, all participants noted increases in the diversity of gut bacteria, particularly the kind associated with glucose regulation and fatty acid breakdown. They also had a nearly 8% reduction in “bad” cholesterol levels, as well as a 40% reduction in steroid acids – a substance that plays a role in how cholesterol works in the body. In large quantities, these acids can clog blood vessels, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke.
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This effect is likely because grapes are a rich source of fiber and polyphenols, both of which provide digestive and cardiovascular benefits, according to study co-author Jieping Yang, PhD, at the Center for Human Nutrition, David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Although this was a pilot study due to its small number of participants, Yang says it adds to abundant previous research showing that compounds in grapes have a range of benefits, including antibacterial and antiviral properties.
The main finding in the latest study was enhanced gut health, but Yang says the cholesterol effect is also promising. This is particularly the case because participants had to abstain from eating fruits and vegetables for a month, meaning that even those who rarely eat these foods can see benefits just a few weeks after including them in their diet.
“Dietary intervention is the primary approach to cholesterol management,” she says. “In this study, the equivalent of two servings of grapes provided enough dietary fiber to have a small but significant effect.”
More research needs to be done, Yang adds, but in the meantime, this adds to other research suggesting grapes are definitely heart-healthy—and gut-boosting—in your fruit bowl.
For more information, check out the secret effects of eating grapes, says science.