Recent experiments are showing a connection between eating grapes and a reduced risk of getting diabetes and heart disease. Scientists at the University of Michigan Health System have been exploring whether or not the natural elements found in grapes can actually effect things like blood pressure and the metabolic syndrome in rats, and therefore in humans. Research from this recent study shows that naturally occurring antioxidants called phytochemicals may be the main beneficial factor in grapes. “The possible reasoning behind the lessening of metabolic syndrome is that the phytochemicals were active in protecting the heart cells from the damaging effects of metabolic syndrome. In the rats, inflammation of the heart and heart function was maintained far better,” says Steven Bolling, M.D., heart surgeon at the U-M Cardiovascular Center and head of the U-M Cardioprotection Research Laboratory. The key factors in causing cardiovascular stress are oxidative damage and inflammation, which were both lessened in the subjects who had been consuming the grapes. “Although there’s not a particular direct correlation between this study and what humans should do, it’s very interesting to postulate that a diet higher in phytochemical-rich fruits, such as grapes, may benefit humans,” Bolling said.