Metabolic syndrome refers to a related group of conditions including increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels that dramatically increase the risk of developing heart disease, stroke and diabetes, among a host of other serious chronic diseases. Extensive research has identified a number of natural foods and aggressive lifestyle changes that can delay or even prevent the development of serious health problems.
Researchers from the University of Michigan have presented the result of their work to the Experimental Biology Conference in Boston that shows how consuming grapes may help protect against organ damage associated with the progression of metabolic syndrome. The scientists explain that natural components found in grapes, known as polyphenols, are thought to be responsible for the beneficial effects.
The team has found that regular consumption of a variety of different colored grapes can directly impact the development of metabolic syndrome, even when consumed as part of a high fat, American-style diet followed by millions across the country. Using a mouse model designed to simulate human metabolism, researchers examined the effect of feeding a high fat diet supplemented with a freeze-dried grape powder extract to two test groups, with one isolated as an unsupplemented control group for a period of 90 days.
The results showed that three months of a grape-enriched diet significantly reduced inflammatory markers throughout the body, but most significantly in the liver and in abdominal fat tissue. Grape consumption in the supplemented group also reduced liver, kidney and abdominal fat weight, and increased markers of antioxidant defense, particularly in the liver and kidneys. Lead study investigator, Dr. Mitchell Seymour commented "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."
Consuming grapes and grape seed extract has been shown to improve levels of cognition and lower the risk of developing dementia in past studies, and now may be used as a critical component in the fight against metabolic syndrome and diabetes. Dr. Seymour concluded "Both inflammation and oxidative stress play a role in cardiovascular disease progression and organ dysfunction in type 2 diabetes. Grape intake impacted both of these components in several tissues which is a very promising finding." Nutrition scientists recommend consuming several servings of grapes each week or supplementing with a standardized extract (150 to 250 mg daily) to fight the risk of developing metabolic syndrome and lower the risk of organ damage.