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Blackcurrant Juice and Orange Juice Give Heart Health a Boost

Tuesday, February 24, 2009 by: Reuben Chow
Tags: blackcurrants, health news, Natural News

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(NewsTarget) A recent study conducted in Denmark has found that blackcurrant juice and orange juice may help lower the levels of compounds in the body which are associated with cardiovascular disease.

Background and Details of Study

Population studies had previously suggested that increased consumption of fruits can lower the markers for inflammation and endothelial activation, which are factors associated with risk of cardiovascular disease. In addition, vitamin E has known anti-inflammatory effects. With these in mind, the study team looked into the effects of orange and blackcurrant juices as well as vitamin E supplements on the said markers in 48 peripheral arterial disease sufferers.

The study subjects were randomly allocated to four possible consumption scenarios - both juice and vitamin E, juice and placebo, sugar drink and vitamin E, or sugar drink and placebo. The dosages used were 500ml of juice and 15mg of vitamin E per day. The different combinations were consumed for 4 weeks, with 4-week wash-out periods separating the interventional periods.

Findings of Study

The study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, found that the juices helped to lower levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a compound which is made in the liver and is a known marker for inflammation, by 11% and fibrinogen, also a marker for inflammation, by 3%. The sugar drink, on the other hand, raised these markers by 13% and 2% respectively instead. Elevated CRP levels are said to be a good predictor for the development of not just cardiovascular disease, but also type 2 diabetes.

Vitamin E supplements, however, were not found to have had any significant effects on the two markers in this particular study. Further, neither vitamin E supplements nor the fruit juices were found to reduce the markers of endothelial activation.

Despite the study's negative findings, vitamin E has been shown to benefit cardiovascular health

Although vitamin E supplements did not lower the two said markers in this experiment, their benefits on heart health cannot be ruled out. For example, they could improve cardiovascular health in other ways, rather than lowering the two markers. Also, a 4-week consumption period may not have been sufficient to bring out the vitamin`s beneficial effects, thus failing to give it a fair trial.

The type of vitamin E used is important. Generally speaking, vitamins derived from natural sources are more easily assimilated by the human body and fare much better, while synthetic vitamins can sometimes even produce adverse effects.

Perhaps most significantly, the vitamin E dosage of 15mg (about 22 International Units, or 22 IU) per day used in this study, which is the recommended dietary allowance, is woefully low. Some of the previous studies which found vitamin E to be effective for promoting heart health used as much as 400 to 800 IU per day.

Indeed, there is already a significant body of evidence which has revealed vitamin E`s protective effects against negative cardiovascular outcomes. According to the Office of Dietary Supplements of the National Institutes of Health, research suggests that vitamin E may help delay or prevent the development of coronary heart disease in a number of ways.

Firstly, vitamin E may help lower the risk of heart attacks by limiting the oxidation of low-lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the so-called "bad" cholesterol), a process which contributes to atherosclerosis (coronary artery blockage). It also helps to reduce heart attack risk by preventing blood clots from forming. Epidemiological data suggests that lower incidence of heart disease corresponds with increased intake of the vitamin - this included consumption from both dietary and supplementary sources, although the latter seems to offer better protection.

Conclusion on Blackcurrant Juice and Orange Juice

What are the key takeaways of this study?

Firstly, that orange juice and blackcurrant juice are good for heart health. This adds to the large body of evidence that fruit juices are excellent promoters of overall health and vitality. While it is not clear what type of orange juice and blackcurrant juice was actually used, it is always a good idea to go for juices which are as freshly prepared as possible. Of course, organic is best, and stay clear of those with added processed ingredients like refined sugar - those types of fruit juices are probably little better than sodas.

This study did not zoom in on the specific active compounds in the juices which could be doing the job. But does it need to? This study also teaches us that, in our search for health-promoting nutritional foods and supplements, it is almost always a good idea to seek whole food sources, as they contain a wide variety of beneficial substances working in synergy.

Christine Dalgard from the University of Southern Denmark`s Institute of Public Health, who was the leader of the study, summed this up when she said: "I would suggest that it is the mixture of several agents in fruits and vegetables, here notably fruit juices, that affect the arterial wall, thus patients - or healthy [persons] - are better off eating `whole` fruits and vegetables (juices) than specific supplements."


Supplementation with orange and blackcurrant juice, but not vitamin E, improves inflammatory markers in patients with peripheral arterial disease (http://journals.cambridge.org/action/display...)

Fruit juices beat vitamin E for artery health: Study (http://www.beveragedaily.com/Products/Fruit-...)

Office of Dietary Supplements Website (http://ods.od.nih.gov/FACTSHEETS/VITAMINE.AS...)

About the author

Reuben Chow has a keen interest in natural health and healing as well as personal growth. His website, All 4 Natural Health, offers a basic guide on natural health information. It details simple, effective and natural ways, such as the use of nutrition, various herbs, herb remedies, supplements and other natural remedies, to deal with various health conditions as well as to attain good health. His other websites also cover topics such as depression help, omega 3 fatty acids, as well as cancer research and information.

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