Nearly 35 percent of Americans—about 79 million—are obese, putting them at higher risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and bacterial and viral infections. Natural compounds, called “phytochemicals,” found in fruits like grapes and strawberries may help reduce these risks.
In previous research, molecular biologist Susan Zunino, with the Agricultural Research Service’s Western Human Nutrition Research Center (WHNRC) in Davis, California, was the first to show a link between eating grapes and preventing type 1 diabetes in mice. Now she has found that grape consumption by obese humans may decrease blood levels of certain types of fats linked to heart disease and reduce the risk for developing infections.
Zunino, who works in the WHNRC’s Immunity and Disease Prevention Unit, is studying phytochemicals to determine whether they could help obese people fight off infection.
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