In a study in pigs, cranberry juice
helped relax blood vessels clogged with high blood cholesterol
and narrowed by atherosclerosis, according to a study by researchers
at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine.
The pigs used in the study had
a genetic defect -- familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) -- that
causes them to develop high blood cholesterol, which in turn
causes atherosclerosis and vascular dysfunction. However, some
of these pigs were fed cranberry juice powder, made from whole
cranberries, for six months and their blood vessels started
to function like those in normal pigs.
FH pigs that weren't fed the
cranberry powder had much less vascular relaxation than either
normal pigs or the FH pigs that ate the cranberry powder.
The study was to be presented
Sunday at the Congress of the International Union of Physiological
Sciences, in San Diego.
"Since the abnormal functioning
of blood vessels is an important component of heart disease,
finding ways to improve vascular function in patients with high
cholesterol and atherosclerosis is critical to helping protect
these patients from consequence such as heart attack or stroke,"
study lead researcher Kris Kruse-Elliott said in a prepared
"The value of fruits and vegetables
in our diet has recently been an area of intense research, and
studies like this help us to understand the specific mechanisms
by which the nutrients we consume can protect against heart
disease," she said.
The research team now plans to
determine which components of cranberries are most important
in improving vascular relaxation.
Reference Source 101