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Concord Grapes in the News

Hearty Research on Concord Grape Juice

Studies Highlight Concord Grape Juice as Beneficial to Heart Health and Possibly More

Concord, MA, November 15, 2010

According to recent scientific papers published in Nutrition Reviews1 and the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition2, consumers can take steps to support heart health by incorporating grape-based products into their diets.

The Heart of America
More than half of Americans cite heart health as their top health concern.3 Because of this, Americans continually seek ways to promote a healthy heart, often through dietary choices. New studies reveal that grapes and grape products, most notably Concord grape juice, may play a beneficial role in heart health as part of an overall nutritious diet.

Concord Grapes and Heart Health
In a review recently published by Nutrition Reviews, Lisa Vislocky and Maria Fernandez reviewed several studies exploring the role of Concord grapes on health. In particular, the authors highlighted research supporting the beneficial role of grapes on maintaining healthy, flexible arteries (endothelial function) and managing the effects of “bad” cholesterol to help keep arteries clear of plaque (LDL oxidation).

Additionally, in a clinical study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Mustali Dohadwala and team examined the role of Concord grape juice in blood pressure regulation. Study participants included 64 adult men and women with an early stage of high blood pressure classified as either pre-hypertension or stage 1 hypertension. This study showed that drinking Concord grape juice helped lower nocturnal or night-time blood pressure (an indicator of healthy blood pressure regulation), and had a beneficial impact on blood sugar levels compared to a calorie-matched, grape-flavored drink. While this is exciting, it is important to note that more science is needed to confirm these findings, and that the researchers found no significant effect on blood pressure measured over a 24-hour period.

In addition to the growing body of evidence suggesting that 100% Concord grape juice contributes to heart health, the review by Vislocky and Fernandez also outlined emerging areas of grape research, including cognitive function. As the brain ages, it becomes more vulnerable to free radicals which can hinder cognitive function. Recent studies have suggested that polyphenol-containing Concord grape juice may help support cognitive function in older adults with age-related memory decline.4 While early research in this area appears promising, the science is preliminary and further exploration is needed to determine if Concord grape juice can have an effect on cognitive health.

Expert Outlook
Maria Fernandez, of the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Connecticut, Storrs said that “Grape products can be a wise choice for a healthy lifestyle. Grapes and grape juice are easy ways to take a proactive step in maintaining health.”

References:

1 Vislocky LM and Fernandez ML. Biomedical Effects of Grape Products. Nutr Rev. 2010. 68(11):656-670.  www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20961296
2 Dohadwala MM, Hamburg NM, Holbrook M, Kim BH, Duess M-A, Levit A, Titas M, Chung WB, Vincent FB, Caiano TL, Frame AA, Kearney Jr. JF and Vita JA. Effect of Grape Juice on Ambulatory Blood Pressure in Pre-hypertension and Stage 1 Hypertension. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010. 92(5):1052-1059.
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20844075
3 International Food Information Council, Consumer Attitudes toward Functional Foods/Foods for Health, 2007  www.foodinsight.org/Content/6/IFICExecSumSINGLE_vF2.pdf
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.  www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20028599

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.