Professor Paul Thornalley of Warwick Medical School said the study's hypothesis was the nutrients found in fruit help trigger cell mechanisms in the tissue walls of blood vessels that not only protect them from the damage caused by aging, but also prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.
During the three-year study, a screening process will be used to identify which fruit and vegetables have the right nutrients to have a positive impact on vascular health, Thornalley said. These findings will then be used to develop prototype products to be tested on human blood vessels, Thornalley said.
If successful, clinical trials of the prototype products would then be carried out on middle-age, overweight volunteers using state-of-the-art metabolism research equipment at University Hospitals Coventry & Warwick Trusts, the researchers said.
The volunteers will have their blood vessel function and glucose levels monitored to demonstrate which foods directly activate and optimize protective qualities and functions within our bodies.
"We believe we can harness the health-giving properties of fruits such as grapes, strawberries and olives to raise the body's natural defenses against developing heart disease and diabetes and therefore help tackle the growing problems of declining health in our aging and increasingly overweight population," Thornalley said in a statement.