Grape Science Center

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Concord Grapes in the News

Research Further Suggests the Power of Purple

Two New Papers Link Concord Grape Juice to Healthy Circulation & Possible Memory Benefits

June 14, 2012

More than a decade’s worth of research suggests that drinking Concord grape juice can benefit the heart, and early research suggests that Concord grape juice may offer certain cognitive health benefits. This month, two new papers add to the body of evidence highlighting the role of Concord grapes and grape juice in promoting healthy lifestyles.

Review Reinforces Role of Concord Grapes in Supporting Healthy Hearts
A new literature review published in Nutrition Today examines the role grapes and grape products can play in promoting human health. In particular, the review authors suggest that red/purple grapes and grape products can help support a healthy heart.1

The review concluded that consuming red/purple grapes and grape juice, including Concord grape juice, each day can support cardiovascular health by having a favorable impact on vascular health, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) oxidation, blood lipids, oxidative stress and inflammation.

Expert Outlook:
According to Dr. Maria-Luz Fernandez, one of the review authors: “Grapes and grape juice are smart additions to a healthy lifestyle. The benefits of red/purple grapes can be enjoyed by drinking 100% grape juice made with Concord grapes, or by conveniently squeezing grapes or grape juice into easy and delicious recipes.”

Emerging Research on Concord Grape Juice and Cognitive Health
Another new study, conducted by Dr. Robert Krikorian and colleagues at the University of Cincinnati and recently published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry,2 builds on earlier research showing that Concord grape juice has a positive impact on memory in older adults with early cognitive decline.3 In particular, the study authors suggest that these new findings provide further evidence that daily consumption of Concord grape juice can benefit cognitive function in older adults with mild memory loss.2

For the first time, researchers demonstrated that Concord grape juice can both increase blood flow to specific regions of the brain, as well as improve certain aspects of memory function compared to those consuming a grape-flavored placebo. In this study, 21 older adults (average age = 77) were given either Concord grape juice or the placebo daily for 16 weeks, and were tested in various areas related to long-term memory. Those who drank Concord grape juice were better able to recall items despite “interference” from newly introduced information. This means that those who drank Concord grape juice were less susceptible to distraction when asked to remember what they had previously learned. Test scores in other areas like learning and retention did not improve with the juice.

Also, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), researchers monitored specific areas of the brain in a subset of eight study participants while they performed a working memory task. The researchers found that the group consuming Concord grape juice had increased neural activity (indicating an increase in blood flow) in two regions of the brain involved in working memory, compared to the placebo.

Although it is too early to draw any conclusions about the effect of Concord grape juice on memory, this study is an exciting addition to a growing body of research which suggests that Concord grape juice may promote health by supporting healthy circulation.4-8

References:
1Vislocky LM and Fernandez ML. Grapes and Grape Products: Their Role in Health. Nutr Today. 2013. 48(1):47-51. delivery.sheridan.com/downloads/original/196284_Vislocky_44393S_Marybeth.exe

2Krikorian 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.

3Krikorian 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.

4Freedman JE, Parker C, 3rd, Li L, Perlman JA, Frei B, Ivanov V, Deak LR, Iafrati MD and Folts JD. Select flavonoids and whole juice from purple grapes inhibit platelet function and enhance nitric oxide release. Circulation. 2001. 103(23):2792-2798.

5Anselm E, Chataigneau M, Ndiaye M, Chataigneau T and Schini-Kerth VB. Grape juice causes endothelium-dependent relaxation via a redox-sensitive Src- and Akt-dependent activation of eNOS. Cardiovasc Res. 2007. 73(2):404-413.

6Chou EJ, Keevil JG, Aeschlimann S, Wiebe DA, Folts JD and Stein JH. Effect of ingestion of purple grape juice on endothelial function in patients with coronary heart disease. Am J Cardiol. 2001.88(5):553-555.

7Fitzpatrick DF, Hirschfield SL and Coffey RG. Endothelium-dependent vasorelaxing activity of wine and other grape products. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 1993. 265(34):H774-H778.

8Stein JH, Keevil JG, Wiebe DA, Aeschlimann S and Folts JD. Purple grape juice improves endothelial function and reduces the susceptibility of LDL cholesterol to oxidation in patients with coronary artery disease. Circulation. 1999. 100(10):1050-1055.

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.