MADISON, Wisconsin, May 6, 2005 (ENS):
Compounds that occur naturally in cranberries have been
found to reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes
in pigs and may do the same for humans, researchers
at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have found.
Early results from studies indicate that feeding cranberry
juice powder seems to relax and open blood vessels in
pigs that are genetically susceptible to developing
atherosclerosis, or clogged arteries.
Kris Kruse-Elliott, a veterinary anesthesiologist at
the UW-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, presented
her results at the American Physiological Society's
annual meeting in San Diego in April.
Kruse-Elliott and co-researcher Jess Reed, a nutritionist
in the Department of Animal Sciences, set out to evaluate
various whole foods that contain antioxidants, flavonoids
and polyphenols, all compounds that may protect against
Cranberries contain all three, so they fed cranberry
juice powder to pigs that were genetically predisposed
to develop high cholesterol and atherosclerosis, just
as some humans are.
"When these pigs were fed cranberry juice powder
made from whole cranberries for six months, their vessels
acted more like normal pigs," Kruse-Elliott says,
meaning that the pigs' blood vessels relaxed and opened
Abnormal blood vessel function is an important component
of heart disease. Finding ways to improve vessel function
in patients with high cholesterol and atherosclerosis
is critical to helping protect these patients from heart
attacks or strokes.
"The next step is to determine what specific components
of cranberries are most important to the improvements
in vascular function that we observed, exactly how they
modify blood vessel relaxation, and how they can be
most easily consumed as part of the diet," Kruse-Elliott