Researchers from the University of Leeds have discovered the powerful effects of sipping on a specific type of juice – one that can improve the elasticity of blood vessels.
Most people who go on to have a heart attack are suffering from heart disease.
The NHS explained this condition is caused by the arteries become “furred up with fatty deposits”.
Known as plaques, these harden over time, making the blood vessels stiff and narrow.
This process is called atherosclerosis, which can drastically reduce the blood flow to the heart muscle.
A heart attack occurs when blood flow to the heart has been cut off; this can happen when a piece of hardened plaque breaks away from the arterial wall.
Following this, the ruptured wall forms a blood clot, which can block off the blood supply to the heart as the artery is already really narrow.
It would make sense that the dilation of blood vessels (when they widen) would help to prevent this tragedy.
READ MORE: Heart disease warning: The often overlooked symptom that could be a deadly sign
Vascular function – the heart and function of blood vessels – is a known marker for the risk of developing heart disease.
Prior clinical trials have pinpointed how one percent dilation of the blood vessels is associated with up to a 13 percent reduction in cardiovascular disease risk.
For their experiment, the researchers from the University of Leeds enrolled healthy adults aged between 20 to 45 years old.
The volunteers drank a glass of blood orange juice with breakfast and dinner for two weeks.
After a “washout” week, whereby they no longer drank a glass of blood orange juice, another trial began.
This time, the participants repeated the study but drank a placebo drink instead.
Both drinks – the blood orange juice and placebo – contained similar calories and total sugar levels, and the diets remained the same.
Professor Karen Birch commented on the findings: “The results showed that drinking blood orange juice with meals improved flow-mediated dilation by two percent – a statistically significant finding.
“Artery girth also significantly increased after the orange juice compared with a placebo drink.
“Importantly, there were no changes in body weight during the interventions.”
Lead author, Dr Christine Bosch, added her commentary to the research paper, published in the Journal of Nutrition.
“This study adds to growing evidence that polyphenols found naturally in citrus juices have a positive impact on the health and function of our blood vessels,” she said.
Other ways to lower your risk of heart disease
The NHS assured the public that “there are several ways” to reduce your risk of developing heart disease.
For instance, “a low-fat, high-fibre diet is recommended”, which should contain at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day.
Moreover, it’s important to “be more physically active” and to “maintain a healthy weight”.
The best way of doing this is by partaking in regular aerobic exercise, such as jogging, swimming or dancing.