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Concord Grapes in the News

Research Links Concord Grape Juice to Cognitive Function Benefits and More

Evidence Presented at a Major Scientific Conference Reinforces 100% Grape Juice’s Role as a Healthy Beverage Choice

November 13, 2015

Nearly 20 years of research says that 100% grape juice made with Concord grapes helps support a healthy heart – likely because of the plant nutrients, or polyphenols, found naturally in this grape and its juice.1 Two new studies, just presented among the world’s most prominent polyphenol researchers at the International Conference of Polyphenols and Health (ICPH), build on this evidence, suggesting additional health benefits of Concord grapes and reinforcing grape juice’s role as a nutritious beverage choice.

Polyphenols Found in Grape Juice May Moderate Absorption of Naturally Occurring Sugars
Unlike sugar-sweetened drinks with added sugars, 100% grape juice is a nutrient-dense beverage that delivers naturally occurring fruit sugars in combination with health-promoting plant nutrients, including polyphenols. Recent research has suggested that polyphenols in certain fruits may moderate glycemic response, but Concord and Niagara grapes’ impact on blood sugar had not yet been explored.

Using a series of laboratory techniques that simulate the human gut and intestine, researchers at Purdue University examined how the polyphenols in Concord and Niagara grape juices may impact the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates and possibly modify changes in blood sugar after consumption. The results of this pre-clinical study suggest that polyphenols naturally present in grape juice can slow the absorption of the naturally occurring sugars present in the juice.2 Therefore, drinking 100% grape juice versus a sugar-sweetened beverage may result in a modestly lower glycemic response, which can contribute to long-term health.

Expert Outlook:
According to Purdue researcher Dr. Mario Ferruzzi: “This work is interesting given the growing dialogue around sugar-containing beverages and health. While more research is clearly needed, this preliminary study further highlights the distinction between sugar-sweetened drinks and 100% fruit juice, like grape juice, which deliver a mixture of polyphenols and natural sugars.”

Daily Consumption of Concord Grape Juice May Benefit Cognitive Function & Driving Performance
Concord grape juice has been shown to not only deliver cardiovascular benefits, but also positively impact memory in older adults with early cognitive decline.3-4

Now, new research, out of the University of Leeds, found for the first time that the cognitive benefits associated with drinking Concord grape juice extend beyond older adults. In particular, these new findings suggest that drinking Concord grape juice daily can benefit certain aspects of memory and everyday tasks in people with stressful lifestyles – specifically working moms.5

In this study, 25 healthy, 40- to 50-year-old working women with pre-teen children were enrolled in a randomized, double-blind, cross-over trial in which they drank Concord grape juice and a grape-flavored, sugar-sweetened drink (the placebo) for 12 weeks each. Over the duration of the study, the women participated in a series of tests designed to assess their cognitive performance, including a 25-minute driving simulator challenge in which they were asked to match the speed and direction of a lead vehicle. Significant improvements in immediate spatial memory and driving performance were both seen when the moms drank 12 ounces of Concord grape juice daily versus when they consumed the placebo.

Expert Outlook:
“The results of this study are very encouraging,” said Dr. Daniel Lamport from the University of Leeds. “This preliminary research suggests that the cognitive benefits associated with Concord grape juice are not exclusive to adults with early memory decline and that young, healthy adults may also benefit from drinking this juice daily.”

References:
1 Vislocky LM and Fernandez ML. Grapes and Grape Products: Their Role in Health. Nutr Today. 2013. 48(1):47-51.

2 Moser SE, Lim J, Wightman JD, Hamaker BR, Ferruzzi MG. Modulation of intestinal glucose update by phenolics rich Concord and Niagara grape juices in a coupled in vitro digestion/Caco-2 model system. Presented at The International Conference of Polyphenols and Health 2015. Tours, France. October 27-30, 2015.

3 Krikorian R, Boespflug EL, Fleck DE, Stein AL, Wightman JD, Shidler MD and Sadat-Hossieny S. Concord grape juice supplementation and neurocognitive function in human aging. J Agric Food Chem. 2012. 60(23):5736-5742.

4 Krikorian R, Nash TA, Shidler MD, Shukitt-Hale B and Joseph JA. Concord grape juice supplementation improves memory function in older adults with mild cognitive impairment. Br J Nutr. 2010. 103(5):730-734.

5 Lamport DJ, Lawton CL, Merat N, Jamson H, Myrissa K, Hofman D, Chadwick HK, Quadt F, Wightman JD, Dye L. Concord grape juice, cognitive function and driving performance: a 12 week, placebo controlled, randomised crossover trial in mothers of pre-teen children. Presented at The International Conference of Polyphenols and Health 2015. Tours, France. October 27-30, 2015.

Grape Research Overview

For nearly 20 years, researchers have been exploring an important mix of plant nutrients – polyphenols – found in Concord grapes and the effects they have on the body, including possible benefits in supporting cardiovascular health. In addition, emerging research is being conducted to determine whether Concord grapes play a role in supporting a healthy mind and immune system. See the research.

 


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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.