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A glass of the grape _ juice _ may help ward off heartattacks

Toasting the day with a glass of grape juice may be an especially good start for the heart.

A study found that 8 or 10 ounces a day of the purple variety has a potent effect on the blood cells called platelets, making them less likely to form clots that can lead to heart attacks.

In fact, purple grape juice might be even more potent than aspirin, which is widely recommended as a way of warding off heart attacks.

The researchers compared grape with orange and grapefruit juice and came to the conclusion that grape juice is better, at least for the heart.

The study was led by Dr. John D. Folts of the University of Wisconsin Medical School. His research has been funded for several years by the Nutricia Research Foundation of the Netherlands and the Oscar Rennebohm Foundation of Madison, Wis., and more recently by Welch's, which makes grape juice.

Folts noted that 10 companies make purple grape juice in the United States, and all probably work equally well. Purple juice appears to be more potent than white.

Heart attacks occur when blood clots stick to fatty deposits on the walls of the heart's arteries, choking off the supply of blood. Two decades ago, Folts was among the first to show _ first in animals and later in people _ that aspirin is good for the heart because it slows blood clotting.

Now, he is looking at the anti-clotting properties of a large group of natural substances called flavonoids that are found in many different kinds of foods.

Folts presented his latest findings Tuesday at a conference of the American College of Cardiology.

Experimenting on 17 volunteers _ himself included _ Folts found that both aspirin and red wine slow the activity of blood platelets by about 45 percent, while purple grape juice dampens them by about 75 percent.

"His data are very convincing," said Dr. Arthur L. Klatsky of Kaiser Permanent Medical Center in Oakland, Calif., who studies the benefits of alcohol on the heart.

He cautioned, however, that anything that slows down platelets could also lead to unwanted bleeding.

Folts found that when people drink purple grape juice once a day, the benefits linger. In one experiment, people drank the juice for a week. Even after they had stopped for two days, their platelets were still sluggish.

"It appears to be around-the-clock protection," Folts said.