The cure for heart-failure found hanging on a vine

If you’re living with risk of heart failure from hypertension, this scenario might sound frighteningly familiar…

Just walking from the parking lot has you huffing and puffing like a freight train as you try to catch your breath.

When you sit down for more than a minute, you're in danger of dozing off from sheer exhaustion.

And perhaps worst of all, your legs are starting to blow up like circus balloons, and even your most comfortable shoes don't seem to fit well anymore.

If you're not there yet, but are already battling high blood pressure, then you could have just gotten a glimpse into your gloomy future. Hypertension increases your risk of heart failure two to three fold.

But help may have just arrived from an unexpected source -- the humble grape.

It turns out grapes are much more than just tasty, they appear to be able to reduce the risk of , heart failure from hypertension (high blood pressure), , according to a study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.

Grapes fight free radicals

Of course, this isn't the first time I've sung the praises of the grape.

It was over four years ago that I shared the news about the cancer-fighting power packed into those teeny-tiny little grape seeds. And just like back then, the focus of these new findings is trained on the antioxidants and polyphenols crammed into the delicious fruit.

Researchers believe these natural nutrients have the ability to light a fire under several key genes, bumping up their defense against the disease-linked oxidized molecules known as free radicals. (Free radicals are associated with at least fifty different diseases, including cancer and heart disease, and are essentially responsible for the process of aging. But that's a story for another time.)

"Master antioxidant" wards off heart failure

In the eighteen-week animal study, rats with high blood pressure--and who were at high risk for heart failure--were fed a grape-enriched diet. The results were impressive to say the least. The grape diet reduced both heart-muscle enlargement, and fibrosis, and improved the diastolic function (the lower number on your blood-pressure readings) of the heart.

Just as exciting, the scientists were able to pinpoint just how it is the grapes accomplished these impressive feats. The key turns out to be something we've talked about before in the Guide to Good Health, and that's glutathione.

Over three years ago, when I first introduced you to the "master antioxidant," I explained how it can help keep your skin looking fresh and young from the inside out. But glutathione can do a heck of a lot more than just bring the telltale signs of aging to a standstill.

This powerful protector works to neutralize free-radicals before they can cause lasting damage. And this means it can be a potent weapon against all kinds of diseases, including--it turns out--heart failure.

Now, the thing is grapes aren't actually full of glutathione themselves. Instead they bump up the activity of the genes that are responsible for producing the antioxidant, reducing the risk of heart failure from hypertension.

And of course, don't forget, grapes ARE full of all kinds of other disease-fighting antioxidants and polyphenols.

The University of Michigan scientists plan to do more testing to find out even more about how the grapes make such great heart-helpers. But there's no need to wait around for those results, you can start snacking on heart-healthy grapes right away.

But one word of caution: you should make sure that the grapes you choose are organic. They'll cost a few cents more, but the investment is well worth it. Grapes routinely end up on the "Dirty Dozen" list for pesticide contamination. And the last thing you want to do is trade one health problem for another.

And although whole foods are usually best, when grapes aren't an option you may be able to also reap many of the same grape benefits with a high-quality supplement.