When I would pick out my raisins at the supermarket, there was a time when I didn't think much about the health benefits. Instead I thought about how good they would taste in the recipe I was using, or as a mid-morning or afternoon snack.
Raisins rank among the top antioxidant foods, according to USDA government tests. Early findings suggest that eating plenty of fruits high in antioxidants, such as raisins may help slow the processes associated with aging in both body and brain.
I prefer purchasing organic raisins (and grapes) as the pesticide content would be high on a fruit that is consumed with the skin and has so many surfaces.
Andrew J. Dannenberg, M.D. a cancer researcher at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University reports that the antioxidant catechin, found in raisins and some other fruits and vegetables, in the diet of mice genetically predisposed to intestinal tumors reduced the number of tumors by at least 70 percent compared to the control group. This type of study adds to the body of evidence which shows that components of fruits and vegetables have the potential to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer, colorectal adenomas and other gastrointestinal tumors.
Carl L. Keen, Ph.D. from the University of California Davis (click the highlighted link to U of C for more current studies) reports that a significant amount of raisins eaten daily for 4 weeks increased the plasma antioxidant capacity. This in turn decreased the level of circulating oxidized low-density lipoprotein (LDL) also known as the "bad cholesterol". These data clearly show raisins are an important part of 5-a-day diet and that benefits of eating raisins are similar to benefits seen when eating other fruits and vegetables with these plant antioxidants.
Christine D. Wu, M.S., Ph.D. of the University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Dentistry has found that raisins contain compounds including oleanolic acid that inhibit in vitro growth of Streptococcus.mutans, the bacteria in the mouth responsible for tooth decay. Oleanic acid and other compounds in raisins also inhibit organisms associated with periodontal disease, including Porphyromonas gingivalis and Fusobacterium nucleatum. Oleanolic acid is most effective in suppressing in vitro plaque formation by Streptococcus mutans. Prevention of plaque building up on the tooth surface is critical both for preventing tooth decay and promoting healthy gums.
Mary Ellen Camire, Ph.D. of the University of Maine reports that dietary fiber and other components may reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer by binding bile acids and causing their elimination from the body. Camire's study confirms that eating fibrous foods, such as raisins, stimulates the body to replace the bile acids that have been eliminated by making them from its own cholesterol, thus potentially lowering serum cholesterol and the risk of coronary heart disease. Furthermore, bile acids that are bound by fibers such as those in raisins will not be metabolized to a more toxic form and this may potentially reduce cancer risk.
Gene A. Spiller, Ph.D. of the Sphera Foundation and Health Research Studies Center - Los Altos, CA reports feeding of raisins along with peanuts to 10-12 year old children prior to a soccer game resulted in lower increases in blood glucose and insulin than a snack of a white bagel and jam. This is important because it means a more steady fuel supply to the exercising muscle of the young players. Lower insulin levels are advantageous because high levels of circulating insulin can promote the laying down of fat and may lead to insulin resistance, a concern among US children today, where rates of obesity and type 2 Diabetes are increasing.
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