Heart disease affects many of us, but there is a strong possibility that this could be changed simply by changing our attitude towards food and consuming more juice.


The term ‘heart disease’ includes several conditions such from Congenital heart defects seen at birth to atherosclerosis (hardened arteries) that develop later. It is a complex issue with several inter-related factors. Hardening of the arteries and angina are a result of the inner walls of the bodies arteries narrowing due to a build up of plaque (fat, LDL cholesterol and other substances). Plaque build up is increased in people who have high levels LDL (bad) cholesterol and low levels HDL (good) cholesterol. Oxidation of excess LDL cholesterol results in an increase of plaque. The HDL cholesterol helps to prevent the LDL cholesterol from increasing the plaque, moving it instead to the liver. Plaque build up alone may be enough to cause pain (angina) or heart attack. However, if the plaque is ruptured or torn it can block the artery causing a coronary thrombosis (heart attack). Atherosclerosis can also be caused by inappropriate platelet activation causing the platelets in the blood to clot.

Grape Juice inhibits Atherosclerosis

Many of us will have seen news items claiming red wine helps to keep our hearts healthy. This is due to a substance in the grapes that used to make the wine known as polyphenols. However, recent tests have shown that although less polyphenols are present in grape juice than red wine, grape juice is better at inhibiting atherosclerosis [1]. Purple Grape juice has also been found to help patients with coronary artery disease due to significantly improving the function of the cells (endothelial) lining the hardened arteries as well inhibiting inappropriate platelet activation [2]. Purple grape juice’s action as a potent platelet inhibitor is important as Platelets are involved in the development of Atherosclerosis [3]. Other research has shown grape seed proanthocyanidin extracts reducing Atherosclerosis by up to 50% in animals. [4] Although that study was for grape seed extract alone, other studies have shown that the combination of grape seed extract and grape skin, as you would find in the juice, is more effective [5].

Fruit Juices Reduce Cholesterol

Pomegranate juice also offers wide protection against cardiovascular diseases6 and has been shown to reduce cholesterol build up in plaque [7] and reduce the development of atherosclerosis [8].

In laboratory tests orange juice has been found to lower cholesterol and significantly inhibit atherosclerosis [9]. A 750ml serving of orange juice daily has been shown to decreased the LDL-HDL cholesterol ratio by 16% in tests on people [10]. Tests on smokers has shown that carrot and orange juice combined significantly susceptibility of LDL to oxidation [11] (the process that increases plaque).

As little as 330 mL of tomato juice [12] has also been shown to significantly reduce LDL oxidation [13]

Adding garlic to vegetable juices takes some getting used to, but garlic has also been shown to decrease bad LDL cholesterol while increase HDL cholesterol [14] as well as reducing LDL oxidation [15].

Plant sterols and stanols found in high quantities in veg like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower16 have been found to reduce LDL cholesterol [17]. One report says around 2g per day of plant sterol ester can decrease LDL cholesterol levels from 9% to 20% [18]

Ginger has also been shown to significantly reduce LDL cholesterol and abnormal cell tissues (Aortic atherosclerotic lesion) [19] in the arteries around the heart.

With so much evidence proving the benefits of fruit and vegetable juices why on earth would we not want to include them in our diet?

1 Atherosclerosis. 2001 May;156(1):67-72. Red wine, dealcoholized red wine, and especially grape juice, inhibit atherosclerosis in a hamster model. Vinson JA, Teufel K, Wu N. Department of Chemistry, University of Scranton, Linden and Monroe Streets,

2 Adv Exp Med Biol. 2002;505:95-111. Potential health benefits from the flavonoids in grape products on vascular disease. Folts JD. Coronary Thrombosis Research Laboratory, University of Wisconsin Medical School, Madison, USA.

3 J Nutr. 2000 Jan;130(1):53-6. Grape juice, but not orange juice or grapefruit juice, inhibits human platelet aggregation. Keevil JG, Osman HE, Reed JD, Folts JD. Cardiology Section of Department of Medicine, University of Wisconsin, Madison,
WI 53792, USA.

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