Thursday, August 21, 2008
by Dr. Don Rose
Based on an article by Jon Barron on his Health Blog
Have a hankering to hear how to help your heart stay healthy? How about some fruit juice! We always knew it tasted great, but now comes new proof it is good for us, too. Of course, for optimum heart health, fruit juice plus fitness activities plus a fine diet will help even more, but the research study discussed below shows that we now have even more reason to drink grape juice and apple juice instead of sodas. In short, this is grape news for everyone, from California to Apple-ate-ya. Okay, enough puns, just read the story below for all the juicy details. --Don Rose
Researchers from Universite Montpellier in France recently discovered that grapes and apples may prevent plaque from coating arterial walls when consumed with fatty, high-cholesterol foods. The researchers also found that apple and grape juices have a more powerful anti-plaque effect than the fruits themselves.
The study followed several groups of hamsters -- one fed a normal diet, while the others enjoyed high-fat diets plus either fruit, water, or juice. The amount of fruit consumed by the little rodents was the human equivalent of three apples or bunches of grapes a day; the amount of juice was the equivalent of about four glasses. The hamsters in the purple grape juice group fared the best, with the lowest level of atherosclerosis, followed by those eating purple grapes. The apple-juice and apple-eating hamsters scored third and fourth, respectively. All the fruit- and juice-eating hamsters had lower cholesterol, less oxidative stress, and less fat accumulation in their aortas than the hamsters who consumed no fruit or juice.
The researchers assume that the cardiac benefits of fruit probably derive from phenolic compounds -- powerful antioxidants found in grapes and apples. Although grapes and apples contain the same amount of phenols in fruit form, grape juice has two-and-a-half times the amount that apple juice does. Earlier studies have found significant differences in phenol content from one fruit juice to another, with blueberry juice the leader of the pack, and apple, grape, pomegranate juices containing far more than the ever-popular orange, pineapple, and grapefruit juices.
According to the Universite Montpellier research team, the findings suggest that the amount of phenols contained in a food have a direct effect on its antioxidant properties. The results, they write, "provide encouragement that fruit and fruit juices may have a significant clinical and public health relevance."
Fruit vs. Fruit Juices
But that's only part of the story. A primary reason juices outperform fresh fruits in delivering antioxidants has to do with the way juice concentrates the nutrients. You get more bioactive punch for the mouthful from juice because you don't have to eat all that fiber. Also, the body can utilize the nutrients more readily since it doesn't have to separate nutrients from the fiber, minimizing the amount of energy consumed in digestion and freeing up that energy for healing. Thirdly, not all phenols are the same. Some, like EGCG in green tea, resveratrol in grapes, and curcumin in the spice turmeric, stand out. And then, of course, in addition to phenols, fruit juices contain other antioxidants such as Vitamin C, as well as minerals, living enzymes, and an assortment of phytochemicals.
Fresh Juice vs. Commercial Bottled Juice
Before you decide to implement the good news by washing down your beefsteak and fries with a glass of Welch's, here's something to consider. There's a world of difference between commercial bottled juice and freshly made juice. Within minutes of juicing, many of the nutrients and enzymes start to break down, rendering the benefits far less potent. By the time bottled juice gets to your mouth, particularly if it's been processed, it's a shadow of its original self. Also, while fruit juices provide many benefits, they contain a lot of sugar, so many people recommend emphasizing vegetable juices instead. In fact, a good juicer is probably the single best investment you can make in your health.
If you don't already own a juicer, look for a machine that's great at extraction, but also easy to use and clean. Some powerful juicers are so difficult to clean that they may end up going unused. Note that you can spend stratospheric amounts on a juicer such as a Norwalk, or pick a perfectly acceptable L'equip for about $130. The Jack LaLanne Power Juicer is another choice (you may have seen its ubiquitous infomercials on TV).
In terms of extraction, some people like the twin magnetic gear system used in juicers like the Green Star. But the Green Star has a big footprint on the counter and takes a bit of effort to clean -- although it's not as difficult as the Norwalk. Some say it is best for fasts, or when juicing heavily for several days in a row -- just clean it at the end of each day. If you're doing a lot of juicing during any given day, the Green Star is the way to go.
If you're new to juicing, consider the L'equip Mini Model 110.5 pulp ejector juicer. It may not have the best extraction method, but it does a decent job. Also, relative to most high-end juicers, it's quick to use and clean. With this Model, it's not that hard to make a quick glass of fresh squeezed juice -- the main thing many folks want from a juicer.
Juicing is a great way to improve one’s health, but it is not recommended to make your juice and then eat junk food to round out your meals like the hamsters did. Although juice may moderate some of the harmful effects of high-fat, high-glycemic diets, it provides far more benefit when used as part of a healthy diet routine. In fact, there are many advocates of juice fasting because it gives the body a chance to detoxify and rebuild.
Also, while the information above shows that a good way to keep “heart healthy” is to drink more fruit juices, one never knows when one’s heart might malfunction, for any number of reasons. It can happen to anyone, at any age, even if you’ve lowered your risk for heart problems via good diet and exercise. If you sense the onset of a heart attack or irregular rhythms, call 911. If you are not near a phone, cannot get to a phone or cannot punch in the numbers, you can still get immediate help if you are a member of Life Alert; simply press your Life Alert help button to get in touch with live dispatchers within seconds, 24/7. They can send medical assistance to you, which will arrive in a matter of minutes. Life Alert members who are not home can also use a special one-button 911 cell phone (an optional Life Alert feature). If you don’t currently have Life Alert, see below for links to information on this valuable service.
The article above is covered by a Creative Commons License. The information provided is, to the best of our knowledge, reliable and accurate. However, while Life Alert always strives to provide true, precise and consistent information, we cannot guarantee 100 percent accuracy. Readers are encouraged to review the original article, and use any resource links provided to gather more information before drawing conclusions and making decisions.
Dr. Don Rose writes books, papers and articles on computers, the Internet, AI, science and technology, and issues related to seniors.
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