Grapes, both the red and black, contain powerful antioxidants and resveratrol. These components help in the prevention of the narrowing and hardening of the arteries. Ellagic acid, which has anti-cancer properties, is also contained in grapes. Grapes are also a good source of potassium.

Components in grapes work together to inhibit an enzyme crucial to the proliferation of cancer cells. This is what is claimed by scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Flavonoids which are more abundant in red than in white grapes are a group of organic compounds that are most responsible for its anti-cancer qualities

The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry has posted the Illinois study which details a dozen newly discovered constituents in grape-cell culture extracts and how some of them work synergistically against an enzyme known as human DNA topoisomerase II. The enzyme is necessary for the spread of cancer and commonly used in cancer research to screen plant chemicals.

According to Elvira Gonzalez de Mejia, a professor in the department of food science and human nutrition “It’s very clear that the synergy is critical. When a cell becomes malignant that enzyme is expressed 300 times more than in a normal cell. If we can find a compound or mixture of compounds that can reduce the activity of that enzyme, the cancerous cells will die.”

The synergistic activity involves specific phytochemicals from the proanthocyanidin and anthocyanin classes of the varied flavonoid family. They worked more effectively against the enzyme than do the previously identified flavonoids quercetin and resveratrol. Alone, the individual components had less effect on the enzyme.

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