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Grapes are great for many reasons. They are tasty, are great sources of needed nutritional items and they make wine. Even dried and shriveled up they retain their incredible taste and value. Now it seems they can also help drop your blood pressure. A small study out of Louisville examined 46 men and women who were on the verge of developing hypertension: their systolic blood pressures (the top number) ran from 120-139mm Hg and the diastolic (bottom number) ran between 80-89mmHg. They snacked on raisins three times a day for 12 weeks. The control group snacked on items containing an equal number of calories, but did not contain any vegetables, fruits or raisins. Those munching raisins significantly dropped their systolic blood pressure. Reducing your blood pressure is good for your health and vitality. The how and why remains unknown, but suffice to say raisins are rich in potassium, antioxidants, polyphenols, phenolic acid and fiber. Or perhaps they are just nature’s sun-dried, portable “raisin d’être.”
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Apples are good for a lot of reasons. The fact that, at least for post menopausal women, they can keep the cardiologist at bay is just icing on the apple spice cake, as it were. A study that was recently presented at presented at the Experimental Biology 2011 meeting in Washington, D.C that provided just such evidence. The study looked at post menopausal women who were asked to consume a daily serving of apples (dried) each day. After a year, the women saw their total cholesterol drop by an average of 14%. Their LDL or “bad” cholesterol was reduced by an average of 23%. Levels of lipid hydroperoxide, a biochemical involved in the formation of heart-clogging plaques, and C-reactive protein, which is a marker of inflammation, were both down by about one-third. Both of these compounds are associated with a higher inflammatory state. In the study, the apple group achieved superior results to a similar group that ate prunes.
Dr. Hyson, from UC Davis completed a review of 80 studies, published since 2005, on the health benefits of apples. She notes that in addition to their aforementioned cardiovascular benefits, apples seem to help regulate blood sugar and control appetite and may protect against cancer. As for how they do it, apples are rich in pectin, which acts blocks cholesterol absorption. Apple peels are also a rich source of antioxidants. Experts agree fresh apples are likely even better than dried; so they fresher you get, the better!