The study, presented at the Experimental Biology conference in Boston, USA, suggests that grape consumption may reduce inflammation and fat storage whilst also improving antioxidant defences.
Led by Dr E. Mitchell Seymour from the University of Michigan Health System, USA, the team studied the effects of a high fat, American-style diet both with added grapes and without grapes (the control diet) on the heart, liver, kidneys, and fat tissue in obesity-prone rats.
The results showed that three months of a grape-enriched diet significantly reduced inflammatory markers throughout the body, but most significantly in the liver and in abdominal fat tissue.
"Our study suggests that a grape-enriched diet may play a critical role in protecting against metabolic syndrome and the toll it takes on the body and its organs," said Seymour."Both inflammation and oxidative stress play a role in cardiovascular disease progression and organ dysfunction in Type 2 diabetes."
"Grape intake impacted both of these components in several tissues which is a very promising finding," he said.
The team fed the grapes – a blend of red, green and black varieties – to the rats as part of their diets as a freeze-dried grape powder for 90 days.
Seymour and his team found that in addition to lowering inflammation in the body – and specifically in the liver and abdominal fat – that consumption of the grape powder also reduced liver, kidney and abdominal fat weight, when compared with those consuming the control diet.
Additionally, grape intake increased markers of antioxidant defence, particularly in the liver and kidneys, they said.