Grape Science Center

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Concord Grapes in the News

A Toast to Your Health with Grape Juice

Evidence Presented at Major Scientific Conference Reinforces Role of Concord Grape Juice in a Healthy Lifestyle

October 18, 2011

Two scientific papers presented at the 5th International Conference on Polyphenols and Health (ICPH) further support the connection between the plant nutrients in Concord grape juice and promising benefits for health.

The Power of Polyphenols

Research has linked the consumption of Concord grape juice to a range of health benefits including cardiovascular well-being and more. However, few studies have looked at the specific plant nutrients that may be responsible for these unearthed health effects.

Angélique Stalmach, PhD, University of Glasgow, shared new research identifying specific plant nutrients, or polyphenols, in Concord grape juice as being the beneficial compounds. Polyphenols are naturally found in plant-based foods and beverages, and growing research suggests that they play a role in overall health. According to Dr. Stalmach’s new analysis, certain polyphenols in Concord grape juice are absorbed by the human body.1 Approximately 60 percent of the polyphenols are broken down in the small intestine, with some absorption occurring in the upper part of the gastrointestinal tract, while the remaining 40 percent appears to reach the colon -- where it undergoes additional metabolism.

Additional work is underway to determine if specific polyphenols– including anthocyanins, hydroxycinnamate esters, flavanols and their metabolites – have a positive effect on the beneficial microflora present within the colon and thus contribute to gut health.

Expert Outlook

“This research is promising as we look to further understand how consuming Concord grape juice can benefit health," explained Dr. Stalmach. "By determining that certain polyphenols are absorbed in the body, we are closer to identifying which plant nutrients or their metabolites may be responsible for the health-promoting effects seen in previous Concord grape juice studies."

More to Think About with Polyphenols

In addition, Daniel Lamport, PhD, University of Leeds, shared findings at ICPH from a literature review on various polyphenol sources and their effect on cognitive health – including polyhenols in berry juice, such as Concord grape juice.2

In particular, Dr. Lamport found that the consumption of berry juice, cocoa and polyphenol supplements, like resveratrol, may be most closely associated with improved immediate spatial working memory, among various cognitive health benefits. The review also indicated that berry juice, including Concord grape juice, and its impact on verbal memory is another promising area of research to further explore.

The review highlights developing research linking polyphenol-containing foods and supplements with cognitive health benefits. This suggests that the polyphenols in these products are likely responsible for the health effects seen in these promising early studies. While this review adds to the emerging evidence on the possible role of Concord grape juice and grape polyphenols in promoting cognitive health, additional research is needed before final conclusions can be drawn.

References

1 Stalmach A, Edwards CA, Crozier A. Gastrointestinal stability and metabolic fate of Concord grape juice (poly)phenolic compounds in humans. Digestion, absorption and metabolism in the gastrointestinal system. Presented at The 5th International Conference on Polyphenols and Health. Sitges, Spain. October 17-20, 2011.

2Lamport DJ, Lawton CL, Wightman JD and Dye L. The effects of polyphenol consumption on cognitive performance: A systematic research review of human studies. Presented at The 5th International Conference on Polyphenols and Health. Sitges, Spain. October 17-20, 2011.

Scientific Meetings

Please check here for updates on conferences and other meetings where nutrition science is being discussed. This section will highlight upcoming symposia, including sessions on the role of fruit, including grapes, in a healthy diet.

November 6-9, 2010: American Dietetic Association Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo, Boston, MA - www.eatright.org/fnce/


April 6-11, 2011: Experimental Biology, Washington D.C. - www.experimentalbiology.org


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An observational study, usually a retrospective study (a study that looks backward in time) that compares two groups of people: 1) those with the specific condition (e.g., disease) being studied (cases) and, 2) a similar group of people without that condition (controls). Researchers compare these two groups of people and important characteristics, such as certain lifestyle choices, to determine what factors may be associated with the condition under investigation.

A type of study that often includes patients with specific health conditions who could benefit from receiving a new treatment. These studies can also be performed in healthy subjects. The end goal of a clinical study (also called clinical research or clinical trial) is to determine effectiveness and safety of a health intervention in humans.

An observational study, usually prospective (looking forward), that follows a group of similar people over time. The goal is to determine which factors and exposures affect the development of a specific outcome or health condition (e.g., disease) during the study’s time period.

A type of observational study, often given as a survey, that examines a group of subjects during a single occasion, or over a very short period of time. This type of study aims to describe the relationship between health-related conditions (e.g., metabolic syndrome, hypertension) and other factors that exist in the general population (e.g., dietary intake, physical activity levels), during a particular time period.

A type of study in which researchers simply observe subjects and measure the associations between certain characteristics (e.g., fruit/vegetable intake) and specific outcomes (e.g., obesity). Examples of observational studies include case-control studies, cross-sectional studies, and cohort studies. While these studies gather important information, they cannot prove that a specific treatment or factor affects health.

A small scale, preliminary study that is conducted to determine the potential for a larger study.

A stage of research that often occurs prior to trials involving humans. This type of research can help determine mechanisms of action of a treatment, or how the treatment is causing the effect, as well as help ensure the safety of treatment in subsequent human trials.

In vitro
Testing performed in a controlled environment, such as a test tube or a Petri dish, instead of living organisms. In vitro literally means "within the glass" in Latin.

Ex vivo
These experiments are performed on tissue (e.g., animal or human cells) taking place outside of the organism, such as in a laboratory setting. In Latin, this means "out of the living."

In vivo
These tests are done on whole, living organisms. Technically, animal and human testing are two forms of in vivo research, which means "within the living." These experiments may be performed outside of a laboratory setting.

A study designed to provide the most credible information about the cause and effects of treatment. These types of studies are recognized as unbiased because they involve the random assignment of treatments to subjects being studied.

Bias
The tendency throughout any stage of research to generate findings that may not reflect "true values." In clinical trials, researchers try to avoid many kinds of bias, including selection by randomizing subjects, measurement by creating placebos and performing blind trials, and confounding by carefully designing the study and analyzing the findings.

Blind
Study in which subjects do not know whether they receive the treatment or the placebo, which assists in prevention of bias. Double-blinded studies are a higher level of scientific rigor because neither the participants nor the investigators know who is receiving the treatment or the placebo. A double-blind crossover study means each participant undergoes both the treatment and control scenario, typically with a wash-out period in between.

Placebo-controlled
Study that allows researchers to isolate the effect size of the treatment by comparing a group given a simulated treatment (e.g., grape flavored drink) to those with the real treatment (e.g., Concord grape juice), which reduces measurement bias. The placebo should match as closely as possible to the treatment without containing the active ingredients.

Randomized
Study involving participants who are randomly assigned to either the treatment or the placebo group, reducing selection bias.