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Concord Grapes in the News

Something to Think About

Pilot Study Showed Concord Grape Juice Helped Improve Memory Measures in Older Adult

February 1, 2010

In addition to the decade’s worth of cardiovascular research on Concord grape juice, a recent pilot study showed that consuming Concord grape juice improved memory measures in a group of older adults.1

Cognitive Decline
Although forgetfulness is associated with normal aging, it can also be a sign of one of many cognitive impairments.1,2,3 According to Krikorian et al., “Regulation of inflammation generally is reduced with aging, and accelerated inflammation is implicated in [certain] neurodegenerative disorders….”1 Concord grapes contain polyphenols, plant nutrients which have anti-inflammatory properties.4 This reduction in inflammation is thought to be one potential mechanism leading to the beneficial effect on cognitive function in older adults.1,5

Concord Grape Juice and Cognitive Health
In a study published by the British Journal of Nutrition, Dr. Robert Krikorian showed that drinking Concord grape juice promoted memory function in a group of older adults with early memory decline. Twelve participants, with an average age of 78.2 (+ 5 years), were enrolled in a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study in which they consumed Concord grape juice or a grape-flavored drink (the placebo) daily. Specifically, the study showed that the five adults consuming Concord grape juice for 12 weeks experienced a significant improvement in list learning and trends suggested improvements in two additional memory measures (verbal recall and spatial memory) relative to those consuming the placebo.1

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 the existing body of research on Concord grape juice and cardiovascular health that has been developed over more than a decade.4,6-14

Expert Opinion
Dr. Krikorian commented, “Our preliminary findings suggest that supplementing the diet with Concord grape juice may provide benefit for older adults with early memory changes.”

1 Krikorian R, Nash T A, Shidler M D, Shukitt-Hale B and Joseph J A. Concord grape juice supplementation improves memory function in older adults with mild cognitive impairment. Br J Nutr 2010, 103: 730-734. 2 Crook TH, Bartus RT, Ferris SH, Whitehouse, P, Cohen G.D. and Gershon S. Age-associated memory impairment: proposed diagnostic criteria and measures of clinical change. Dev Neuropsychol. 1986. 2:261–276.
3 Neilsen H, Lolk A and Kragh-Sorensen P. Age-associated memory impairment – pathological memory decline or normal aging? Scand J Psychol. 1998. 39:33–37.
4 Albers AR, Varghese S, Vitseva O, Vita JA and Freedman JE. The antiinflammatory effects of purple grape juice consumption in subjects with stable coronary artery disease. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2004. 24(11):e179-180.
5 Shukitt-Hale B, Lau FC and Joseph JA (2008) Berry fruit supplementation and the aging brain. J Agric Food Chem 56,636–641.
6 Anselm 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.
7 Chou 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.
8 Fitzpatrick DF, Hirschfield SL and Coffey RG. Endothelium-dependent vasorelaxing activity of wine and other grape products. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 1993. 265(2):H774-H778.
9 Freedman 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.
10 Keevil JG, Osman HE, Reed JD and Folts JD. Grape juice, but not orange juice or grapefruit juice, inhibits human platelet aggregation. J Nutr. 2000. 130(1):53-56.
11 O'Byrne DJ, Devaraj S, Grundy SM and Jialal I. Comparison of the antioxidant effects of Concord grape juice flavonoids alpha-tocopherol on markers of oxidative stress in healthy adults. Am J Clin Nutr. 2002. 76(6):1367-1374.
12 Stein 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.
13 Vinson JA, Yang J, Proch J and Liang X. Grape juice, but not orange juice, has in vitro, ex vivo, and in vivo antioxidant properties. J Med Food. 2000. 3(4):167-171.
14 Vislocky LM and Fernandez MLF. Biomedical Effects of Grape Products. Nutrition Reviews. 2010. 68(11): 656-670.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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