More Americans die from cardiovascular disease than any other cause, according to 2012 data from the American Heart Association. There is no single miracle elixir for heart and blood vessel health, but a handful of fruit juices lead the heart-healthy pack, giving your cardiovascular system a significant -- and scientifically proven -- boost. Substitute all-natural juice for less healthy beverage options, such as soda, to reap the heart-healthy benefits.
Beetroot juice, though perhaps not as common as a glass of OJ with breakfast, stands among the most heart-healthy juices. About 17 ounces of beetroot juice per day significantly reduces blood pressure, according to a 2008 study from the London School of Medicine and the William Harvey Research Center at Barts. The high nitrate content of beetroot juice, which actually widens the blood vessels when it enters the body as nitrite, lowers blood pressure within one hour of ingestion.
In 2003, a University of Scranton study reported that three 8-ounce servings of cranberry juice per day increased “good cholesterol,” or high-density lipoprotein, by an average of 10 percent. This figure makes for an average 40 percent decrease in heart disease risk. Exactly why this is remains unclear, but researchers theorize that the high levels of antioxidant polyphenols are the cause.
Red wine has long been associated with heart health, but its non-alcoholic sibling is no slouch either. The flavonoids found in purple grapes relax the blood vessels, which leads to improved blood flow and a decreased risk of arterial buildup. A 1999 controlled study conducted by the University of Wisconsin found that a daily glass of purple grape juice significantly reduced oxidation, “bad cholesterol,” or low density lipoprotein, and encouraged healthy blood flow. Likewise, this heart-friendly juice helps decrease the occurrence of heart attack-causing blood clots, according to unpublished research from the University of Georgetown.
When incorporating heart-healthy juices into your diet, avoid juices that contain added sugar. Dr. Thomas Behrenbeck, a cardiologist from Mayo Clinic, warns that this additional sugar, which adds calories to the juice, decreases its cardiovascular health benefits. Consult your doctor before adding a new juice to your regular diet to avoid potentially dangerous interactions with prescription drugs such as enzyme inhibitors and blood thinners.
- American Heart Association: Top Ten Things to Know, AHA Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics – 2012 Update
- Science Daily: Daily Glass of Beet Juice Can Beat High Blood Pressure, Study Shows
- American Heart Association “Hypertension”: Nitric Oxide, Oxidative Stress
- Vegsource: Study: Beetroot Juice Improves Cardiovascular Health
- Science Daily: Study Provides New Evidence That Cranberry Juice May Help Fight Heart Disease
- CNN: Wine or Welch's Grape Juice Provides Healthy Benefits without Alcohol
- Mayo Clinic: Can Drinking Pomegranate Juice Help Lower my Cholesterol?
Dan Ketchum has been a professional writer since 2003, with work appearing online and offline in Word Riot, Bazooka Magazine, Anemone Sidecar, Trails and more. Dan's diverse professional background spans from costume design and screenwriting to mixology, manual labor and video game industry publicity.