Prevent Heart Disease With 4 Heart Healthy Fruits

prevent-heart-disease-with-apples-tomatoes-cranberriesAn apple per day may prevent heart disease and help keep the doctor away but did you know that tomatoes, cranberries and grapes are powerful heart protectors too?

Eating all 4 fruits daily may be extremely beneficial in reducing your heart disease risk by as much as 40 – 50 percent according to new research. Each of these little phytonutrient warriors offer cancer protection as well. So eating them in quantity offers a two-fold benefit.

Diet can have a tremendous, beneficial impact on heart and artery health. Eating high quality, nutrient rich foods and exercise should be your first choices of defensive tactics against high LDL cholesterol and high blood pressure.

“A heart-healthy diet is always the first step,” says Michael Blaha, M.D., director of clinical research for the Johns Hopkins Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease. “In some patients we can see a dramatic improvement in cholesterol from diet alone.” Fortunately, these antioxidant-rich fruits are as tasty as they are healthy.

Apples

So what’s so great about apples and why should you eat them?

prevent-heart-disease-withApples are rich in pectin, a soluble fiber, that blocks the absorption of cholesterol. Pectin also helps the body to use cholesterol instead of storing it in unwanted areas like arteries.

The skin or peel of an apple is chalked full of antioxidants called polyphenols that protect our cells from free radical damage. [1] These same polyphenols are highly anti-inflammatory which helps reduce the risk of inflammation, a major cause of heart disease.

prevent-heart-diseaseThis combination of pectin and polyphenols helped lower LDL cholesterol 23 percent in women who participated in a controlled study for one year. The daily apple consumption also led to a lowering of lipid hydroperoxide levels and C-reactive protein in those women. The study used dried apples for convenience so fresh apples should work even better. [2] [3]

This small amount of information in regards to what apples do and why eating them is important to your health and preventing heart disease should be enough to get you to start enjoying at least one or two every day.

Tomatoes

prevent-heart-disease-with-tomatoThis delicious, red fruit comes in many varieties. Red tomatoes are chalked full of an antioxidant called lycopene and lycopene may be very beneficial in preventing heart disease. In fact a fairly new study showed it may reduce heart disease risk up to 26 percent over the long term. [4]

For men the tomato achieves a double play. It seems lycopene may help prevent prostate cancer.

In order to achieve the best results from lycopene in your daily diet make sure your tomatoes have been cooked. You can stew them, make them into sauce for pasta which releases the most lycopene activity. Since lycopene is fat soluble make sure that your meal or supplement contains 3 – 5 grams of fat so that your body can easily absorb the lycopene.

Cranberry Juice

cranberry-juiceCranberry juice is fairly well known for it’s ability to prevent, even stop UTI’s but you may not know that this little powerhouse berry also packs a punch against heart disease and prostate cancer.

Cranberry juice has been shown to improve HDL cholesterol (good guy) which helps to rid the body of LDL cholesterol (bad guy). By drinking 3 cups of cranberry juice daily you may see lower LDL cholesterol, higher HDL cholesterol and your cardiovascular system protected from free radicals due to high levels of antioxidants called polyphenols. [5]

Grapes

grape-skin-grape-seedRed and purple grape juice may have similar protective qualities as does wine however most of the protective polyphenols are found in the skin and seeds not the pulp. The best protection and therapeutic value comes from eating the grape with skins or from using grape seed extract.

Grape skin and grape seed offer health-protecting antioxidants, including resveratrol and flavonoids. Some research suggests that whole grapes deliver the same amount of antioxidants that are in grape juice and wine but have the added benefit of providing dietary fiber.

For those with high blood pressure grape seed extract is good news. It lowers blood pressure according to a small study done at UC Davis. Results were seen across the board in those who were given grape seed with an average systolic reduction of 12 points and a diastolic reduction of 8 points. [6]

Reference Sources:

1)  Plant polyphenols as dietary antioxidants in human health and disease

2) ‘Apple a day’ advice rooted in science

3)  Apples Good for Your Heart

4)  New Data Shows Lycopene Reduces Heart Disease Up To 26 Percent

5)  Cranberry Juice Fights Heart Disease

6   Grape Seed Extract for Blood Pressure?