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Scientists to Examine Link Between Fruit Consumption and Vascular Health

Update Date: Nov 24, 2012 11:42 AM EST

Scientists from the University of Warwick and consumer goods manufacturer Unilever are all set to conduct a combined research that would examine the effect of nutrients in everyday fruits and vegetables in improving the cardiovascular health in people and also against protection from Type-2 diabetes.

The study will be carried out in order to better understand if the nutrients and bioactives in fruits like grapes, strawberries and olives if taken in the right combination, can improve the condition of heart and vascular health, medical Xpress reported.

The study's hypothesis aims at testing if fruit nutrients can help trigger cell defense mechanisms in the tissue walls of blood vessels which not only protect them from the damage caused by the ageing process, but also help to prevent the onset of Type-2 diabetes.

This is the first research ever to directly link eating fruits and improving heart health.

The researchers plan to identify which fruit and vegetables have the right nutrients to have a positive impact on people's vascular health by using the innovative screening technology developed by the University of Warwick, will be used.

These findings of the three-year long research, if proven, will pave way for the development of prototype products to be tested on human blood vessels using in vitro trials, following the success of which, it will be carried out on middle-aged, overweight volunteers.

For the study, the researchers will test the blood vessel function and glucose levels of the volunteers in order to demonstrate which foods directly activate and optimize protective qualities and functions within our bodies.

Professor Paul Thornalley from Warwick Medical School explained: "Linking the expertise from industry and our scientific research, added to the ability to trial foods in a clinical setting at University Hospitals Coventry & Warwickshire Trusts (UHCW), gives us a perfect platform to drive the research forward. We believe we can harness the health-giving properties of fruits such as grapes, strawberries and olives to raise the body's natural defenses against developing heart disease and diabetes and therefore help tackle the growing problems of declining health in our ageing and increasingly overweight population."

Dr Gail Jenkins, based at Unilever's Research & Development laboratories at Colworth Science Park, near Bedford, added: "This research is firstly about improving our understanding of which fruit and vegetables are good for our heart health, and then testing these findings in clinical trials to see if one day we can develop a product which activates people's cell defense systems to help improve their vascular function and help protect them from Type-2 diabetes. It's a hugely exciting challenge which could significantly help us encourage our consumers to take small everyday actions to improve their health."

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