A natural way to lower cholesterol might be as close as the produce section of your favorite market: New study in the journal Nutrients suggests that grapes may not only improve this marker of heart health, but also increase the diversity of your beneficial gut bacteria.
Researchers asked 19 healthy adults to follow a diet low in fiber and polyphenols – the compound in fruits and vegetables that reduces inflammation and helps regulate blood pressure – for a month to see how the powder of grapes would subsequently affect them. They continued to eat the same diet but added 46 grams of powder, the equivalent of two servings of fresh grapes, which comes in two cups.
After four weeks of daily grape powder, participants all saw an increase in the diversity of gut bacteria, particularly a type associated with glucose regulation and fatty acid breakdown. They also recorded an almost 8% drop in “bad” cholesterol levels, as well as a 40% drop in steroid acids, a substance that plays a role in how cholesterol works in the body. In large amounts, these acids can cause blood vessels to clog, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Related: What Happens To Your Body When You Eat Grapes
This effect is likely because grapes are such a rich source of fiber and polyphenols, both of which provide benefits to the gut and cardiovascular system, 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 considered a pilot study due to its small number of participants, Yang says it adds to much previous research showing compounds in grapes have a range of benefits, including antibacterial properties. and antivirals.
The main finding of the recent study was improved gut health, but Yang says the effect on cholesterol is also promising. This is especially the case as the participants had to abstain from eating fruits and vegetables for a month, which means that even those who rarely eat these foods could see benefits after just a few weeks of including them in their diet. 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 impact.”
More research will need to be done, Yang adds, but in the meantime, this adds to other research that suggests grapes definitely have a heart- and gut-healthy place in your fruit bowl.
To learn more, check out the secret effects of eating grapes, says science.