A Refreshing Discovery: Concord Grape's Role in Heart Health

Nov 03, 2010, 16:37 ET from Welch's

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

CONCORD, Mass., Nov. 3, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- More than 50% of Americans list heart health as their number one health concern.(1) According to recent scientific papers published in Nutrition Reviews(2) and the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition(3), consumers can take steps to support heart health by incorporating grape-based products into their diets. Specifically, these studies reveal that grapes and grape products, most notably Concord grape juice, may play a beneficial role in cardiovascular health as part of an overall nutritious diet.

A new review by Vislocky and Fernandez, summarizing previously published research, outlined existing scientific evidence on the role of Concord grapes in heart health. In particular, this review highlighted several studies that support 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). Grape seeds, skins and juice have natural plant nutrients known as polyphenols (or more specifically, flavonoids) which naturally serve many functions in the body including acting as antioxidants to help fight free radicals, which are known to harm healthy cells. Eating and drinking polyphenol-containing foods has been associated with promoting overall health. This review provides further support for consuming Concord grapes and juice for heart health.

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

An additional study by Dohadwala and colleagues examined the role of Concord grape juice in maintaining healthy blood pressure. 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.

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.

These two recent scientific papers complement a growing body of evidence suggesting that Concord grape juice can help promote heart health in certain groups of people. Consumers can bring this refreshing discovery into their lives by adding a glass of 100% grape juice made with Concord grapes to a healthy diet and active lifestyle.

Welch's is committed to supporting independent research exploring the role of Concord grape juice in a healthy lifestyle and provided support for these studies.

About Welch's

Headquartered in Concord, Massachusetts, Welch's is the processing and marketing subsidiary of the National Grape Cooperative. Welch's is owned by 1,150 family-farmers across America and in Ontario, Canada, who make up this cooperative and who grow the delicious and inherently healthy Concord grape, used in Welch's juices and other grape-based products. Welch's is committed to research and development that will meet the growing demand for products that address consumers' health and nutrition needs. Welch's products are sold throughout the United States and in approximately 50 countries around the globe. For more information on Welch's, visit www.welchs.com/health.    

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(1)  International Food Information Council, Consumer Attitudes toward Functional Foods/Foods for Health, 2007  http://www.foodinsight.org/Content/6/IFICExecSumSINGLE_vF2.pdf

(2)  Vislocky LM and Fernandez ML. Biomedical Effects of Grape Products. Nutr Rev. 2010. 68(11):656-670.  www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20961296

(3)  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

(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

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