Blood Thinning Benefits of Grapes

Benefits of Grapes

Grapes are often the first fruit enjoyed by many as the sweet, round fruits are nearly irresistible for little toddler fingers at snack time. And, while the benefits of grapes are plentiful, it is often not until much later in life that their true benefit is discovered. Fruit in general is an essential part of any balanced and healthy diet as items in this food group contain many essential vitamins and minerals that the body needs to function properly. But, grapes have a few additional tricks up their sleeves, namely their contributions to good cardiovascular health.

Grapes are natural blood thinners and they belong to a very special set of foods that are high in salicylates. Like other foods that thin blood that fall into this category, they work by blocking the body’s production of vitamin K, which contributes to the coagulating effects of blood. Essentially, this mechanism of action that is true for all salicylate rich foods that thin blood can lead to a reduced risk of the formation of dangerous blood blots caused by abnormal coagulation.

Blood clots are serious business and they can lead to health complications like heart attacks and strokes. When the blood is thickened due to disease or lifestyle factors like smoking, it makes the clustering platelets which form clots more prone to clumping and creating the blood flow hazard. These clots can become dislodged and travel to the brain, resulting in a stroke or, to the heart which can lead to a heart attack. Because the benefits of grapes provide a barrier of sorts to vitamin K production which is integral to clot formation, they serve as active blood thinning foods to keep blood flowing healthfully throughout the body.  Alcohol is also known to thin the blood, and while all types of alcohol are effective, wine produced from grapes has the potential to provide an even more abundant boost to healthy blood flow.

The benefits of grapes for heart health do not stop at thinning the blood alone however. They are also potentially as effective as some medications for lowering cholesterol. Pterostilbene is a compound found in grapes that reduces blood fats by affecting enzymes.  In studies this compound was shown to be effective for lowering cholesterol, even more so than resveratrol, a compound that has long been thought to be beneficial for controlling blossoming blood fat levels. Since cholesterol management is an important step to prevent blood clots by reducing the tendency for build up in the arteries, the benefits of grapes therefore may work in yet another way to add to good cardiovascular health.

Aside from helping to prevent dangerous clots by thinning the blood, grapes are also included in the class of free radical fighters known as antioxidant foods, which can further reduce the risk of clots in addition to many other benefits. These ingestibles are essential in the battle against negative aging processes, cell damage and disease formation. And, antioxidants can help to stave off blood vessel damage which can increase the likelihood of clot development. Grapes are chock full of the free radical fighters however, it is important to note that not all antioxidant foods are created equal, and neither are all grapes in this regard. Pinot and muscadine varieties are considered some of the best to take advantage of the most antioxidant packed benefits of grapes.

It is important to remember that while the well known fruit produces few health concerns, there are some cases where it may be wise to consult with a health care provider before stocking up on the fruit of the vine or planting one in the backyard. Because of the purported blood thinning power of grapes, people taking medications already for this purpose should consult with a health care provider before incorporating them regularly into a diet, just as those using garlic or pomegranate seeds or any other natural blood thinner should. And similarly, while lowering cholesterol is hardly ever a bad thing, anyone taking medications to reduce bad cholesterol levels should also consider medical advice before loading up on grapes, especially in excess. Aside from these potential concerns, grapes are a heart healthy addition to any regular diet whether as a preventative means to promote long term heart health or in conjunction with managed medical care for conditions relating to blood flow or clotting disorders. The true benefits of grapes are still being unraveled, and the sweet snack may prove to have even more amazing effects to add to an already impressive list of healthful advantages.

References:
1. http://www.webmd.com/cholesterol-management/news/20040827/grapes-may-cut-cholesterol-blood-fats
2. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/

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