Wine, tea, vitamin C ... this list of heart-healthy antioxidants grows longer this month, based on two new reports in the winter issue of the Journal of Medicinal Foods. Indeed, the first paper from scientists at the U.C. Davis School of Medicine reveals that eating two apples a dayor drinking 12 ounces of apple juicecan dramatically slow the oxidation of low-density lipoproteins (LDL), or bad cholesterol. And the longer it takes for LDL to oxidize, or break down in the blood, the less likely it is to contribute to atherosclerosis. "Previous studies have shown that eating fruits and vegetables is associated with a reduced risk of coronary artery disease," says lead researcher Dianne Hyson. "But this is the first clinical study to show the potential benefits of active compounds in apple juice and apples."
If you're not an apple fan, try grape juice. The second paper from chemists at the University of Scranton shows that purple grape juice also delays LDL oxidation. In particular, lead researcher Joe Vinson and colleagues compared the LDL oxidation delay brought about in subjects who drank either 13 ounces of purple grape juice or 11 ounces of orange juice each day for one week. And whereas those drinking grape juice showed an increased lag time of 27 percent, those drinking orange juice showed no increase at all. "In our tests, we saw dramatically superior antioxidant performance by the grape juice in in vitro and ex vivo oxidation studies, as well as when human subjects consumed the two juices," Vinson says. "The take-away message from our study is that people who are looking to improve their cardiovascular function through increased antioxidant consumption might prefer a glass of purple grape juice in the morning to orange juice."