Juice Can Effectively
Reduce Heart Disease
Three glasses of cranberry juice just
might keep the cardiologist at bay.
That's the suggestion of a small
new study presented March 24 at the annual meeting of the American
Chemical Society in New Orleans. Researchers from the University
of Scranton suggested that nutrients found in cranberry juice
can effectively reduce the risk of heart disease -- in some cases,
up to 40 percent -- mostly by increasing levels of HDL, the "good"
cholesterol. The juice was also shown to increase blood levels
of antioxidant nutrients by up to 121 percent.
"It is one of the most important
fruit juices you can drink -- with protective qualities that can
make an important difference in your health, particularly your
heart health," says Joe Vinson, the researcher who presented
the findings. Vinson's research was fully funded by the Cranberry
Before you race out and buy that
year's supply of cranberry juice, the news isn't all good. Those
who drank sweetened cranberry juice -- the kind you find on most
supermarket shelves -- experienced a rise in triglycerides, which
are dangerous to the heart.
While Vinson suggests the solution
is to drink your juice artificially sweetened, not all nutritionists
agree that's the best advice.
"I think the best thing you
can do is eat whole fresh fruits -- and to make cranberries one
of a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables you eat every day
since we know that, in their natural form, with nothing added,
these foods have heart-healthy qualities, without any risk of
adverse effects," says Gyni Holland, a nutritionist at the
New York University School of Medicine.
The study also found the amount
of cranberry juice you consume is directly related to how much
protection you receive. For those who had just one eight-ounce
serving daily, Vinson says there was little in the way of health
benefits seen in this study. Significant differences in both antioxidant
levels and HDL cholesterol were not seen until two to three glasses
of juice were consumed daily.
The research involved 11 women
and eight men, all diagnosed with high cholesterol (on average
250 milligrams per deciliter), and none were taking any cholesterol
medication. Normal cholesterol is below 200 mg/dl.
Ten of the participants were assigned
to drink cranberry juice containing an artificial sweetener and
no added sugar, while the remaining nine drank juice sweetened
with corn syrup. All the drinks contained 27 percent fruit juice,
the average amount commonly found in many grocery store brands.
During the first month of the 90-day
trial, each volunteer drank one daily eight-ounce serving of juice.
The second month they consumed two glasses a day, and the third
month three glasses daily. At the conclusion of each of the three
months, Vinson measured their total cholesterol, their HDL, and
He also measured levels of antioxidants
-- nutrients that protect our heart by blocking certain types
of cell damage caused by molecules generated by smoking and pesticide
"After one month there was
no change in any of the participants. At two servings a day, triglyceride
levels rose marginally, but only in those drinking sweetened cranberry
juice," says Vinson.
However, once intake rose to two
glasses daily, antioxidant levels also rose by 111 percent; when
three glasses a day were consumed, Vinson reports, it climbed
to a whopping 121 percent in both types of juices.
What's more, the HDL or "good"
cholesterol of those drinking three glasses of either juice per
day jumped up by 10 percent.
"That's equal to approximately
a 40 percent reduction in heart disease," he says.
According to Holland, the real
message in this study still remains that eating a variety of fruits
and vegetables is one of the most beneficial things you can do
for your health.
"I wouldn't run out and buy
cranberry juice necessarily -- but I would make every effort to
include cranberries along with all types of fruits and vegetables
in your diet," says Holland, who also reminds us that the
flesh as well as the juice of a fruit yields important health
Also important to note, says Holland,
is that the study was not a controlled trial and there was virtually
no attention paid to any changes in the participants' diet or
Moreover, she notes, they were
not questioned as to any lifestyle or other changes that could
have affected the study outcome.
To learn more about the heart-healthy
benefits of fruits and vegetables, check out the American
Heart Association, which also has a page on managing
Reference Source 101