Could fruit help to improve vascular health?

November 23, 2012, University of Warwick
Could fruit help to improve vascular health?

Scientists at the University of Warwick and consumer goods manufacturer Unilever are joining forces to identify whether the nutrients in everyday fruit and vegetables could help to improve people's cardiovascular health and protect them from Type-2 diabetes.

The has been set up to better understand if the and bioactives in fruits like grapes, strawberries and olives – in the right combination – could have a greater impact on people's heart and vascular .

The study's hypothesis is that the nutrients found in fruit help to trigger cell defence mechanisms in the tissue walls of blood vessels which not only protect them from the damage caused by the , but also help to prevent the onset of . If proven, it would be the first time a direct association has been made between eating fruit and improving heart health.

During the three-year programme, innovative screening technology developed by the University of Warwick will be used to identify which fruit and vegetables have the right nutrients to have a positive impact on people's vascular health. These findings will then be used to develop prototype products to be tested on human blood vessels using in vitro trials.

If successful, clinical trials of the prototype products would then be carried out on middle-aged, overweight volunteers using state-of-the-art metabolism research equipment at University Hospitals Coventry & Warwick Trusts (UHCW). The volunteers will have their blood vessel function and glucose levels monitored to demonstrate which foods directly activate and optimise protective qualities and functions within our bodies.

The £1.1m research study, which has been co-funded by the UK Technology Strategy Board, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Unilever, might one day result in a new range of healthy products which contain ingredients designed to help improve people's .

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 defences 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 and vegetables are good for our , and then testing these findings in clinical trials to see if one day we can develop a product which activates people's cell defence 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."

Explore further: Strawberries activate protection protein to prevent cardiovascular disease

Related Stories

Strawberries activate protection protein to prevent cardiovascular disease

July 5, 2012
Strawberries, the traditional summer treat associated with Wimbledon could be serving up some unexpected health benefits.

7-a-day for happiness and mental health

October 9, 2012
Happiness and mental health are highest among people who eat seven portions of fruit and vegetables a day, according to a new report.

Research indicates obesity and diabetes risk is determined in the womb

November 10, 2011
New research from Warwick Medical School indicates some of your risk of developing obesity, diabetes and heart conditions is pre-determined whilst in the womb and by improving the pregnant mother’s diet and vitamins ...

Recommended for you

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

Teens likely to crave junk food after watching TV ads

January 15, 2018
Teenagers who watch more than three hours of commercial TV a day are more likely to eat hundreds of extra junk food snacks, according to a report by Cancer Research UK.

Can muesli help against arthritis?

January 15, 2018
It is well known that healthy eating increases a general sense of wellbeing. Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have now discovered that a fibre-rich diet can have a positive influence ...

Your dishwasher is not as sterile as you think

January 13, 2018
(HealthDay)—Your dishwasher may get those plates spotless, but it is also probably teeming with bacteria and fungus, a new study suggests.

Study reveals what sleep talkers have to say

January 12, 2018
A team of researchers with members from several institutions in France has conducted a study regarding sleep talking and has found that most sleep talking is not only negative in nature, but involves a large amount of swearing. ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.