FRESNO, Calif., Aug. 26 /PRNewswire/ -- Increasing scientific evidence on the healthful properties of antioxidants found in fresh grapes is contributing to greater consumer awareness about the health potential for fresh grapes. As part of a recent national omnibus study, consumers were asked whether they knew that fresh grapes contain antioxidants linked to fighting diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Nearly 58 percent of those polled said "yes." That's up from the 27 percent who agreed with the statement during a similar poll conducted in 1997. "We're pleased that people are getting the message about grapes and health," said Jim Howard, vice president of the California Table Grape Commission (www.freshCaliforniagrapes.com), which sponsored both the 2004 and 1997 polls. "This research focus is full of promise and one that merits our continued support." Since 1997 the commission has funded 22 research studies examining the links between eating fresh California grapes and improved health. Several of the phytonutrients found in fresh grapes, such as anthocyanins, catechins and quercetin have captured the interest of scientists worldwide, but none more than a compound called resveratrol, found primarily in the skins of grapes. "There appears to be growing consensus among the scientific community that resveratrol has potent disease-fighting capabilities," said Dr. Le Creasy, who discovered resveratrol in grapes through his work at Cornell University in the early nineties. "Continued research will also work to explore its probable synergistic effects with other beneficial compounds found in grapes." This year alone, published results on resveratrol include: -- In Nature (July 2004), researchers at Harvard University reported that resveratrol may contribute to increased longevity in the same way that caloric restriction does, by decreasing the development of fat cells and increasing the use of fat within existing cells. Resveratrol was also shown to prevent premature cell death. These life-extending effects were seen in a variety of species, including yeast, flies and worms. Further studies in animals are currently underway. -- In Surgery (July 2004), researchers reported results of recent studies on resveratrol and neuroblastoma, an aggressive childhood cancer, finding that resveratrol caused cell death and cell cycle arrest in neuroblastoma cells, as well anti-tumor activity against neuroblastoma in mice. -- In Melanoma Research (June 2004) resveratrol was found to selectively inhibit the growth of drug-resistant and drug-sensitive melanoma cells. -- In Anticancer Research (March/April 2004), a Canadian research team found that resveratrol and curcumin, an antioxidant found in the spice turmeric, induced a dose- and time-dependent decrease in cell viability, cell-cycle arrest and cell death of neuroblastoma cells. -- In the American Journal of Physiology Lung Cellular Molecular Physiology (June 2004) researchers at the National Heart Lung Institute Imperial College London reported that resveratrol and quercetin exhibited unique, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory activity on human epithelial cells, that may have applications for treatment of anti- inflammatory diseases. -- In Oncology Report (February 2004), Korean researchers found that resveratrol inhibits cell proliferation and causes cancer cell mortality in human breast cancer cells. Additionally, numerous studies indicate that grapes, grape-derived foods or components of grapes may protect against heart disease by: -- Increasing the resistance of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) to oxidation -- Decreasing platelet aggregation and arterial lesions -- Promoting arterial relaxation and other favorable metabolic effects "The continuing push to understand why grapes are good for you shows no sign of slowing and we will continue to monitor developments in this area," said Howard. "Fortunately grapes are a food that people want to eat just for their great taste -- contributing to good health is just a bonus."
SOURCE California Table Grape Commission