HARROGATE, England, Dec. 9 /PRNewswire/ -- Research presented this week at the 4th International Conference on Polyphenols and Health (ICPH) further demonstrates that Concord grape juice may support control of blood pressure and healthy brain function in certain population groups. The Concord grape has long been studied for its health benefits and its association with healthy aging, and researchers are now also seeking to understand the compounds within the grape that are responsible for these health outcomes.
New Food for Thought
With growing evidence, Concord grape juice consumption has been shown to reduce inflammation, (1) blood pressure,(2) and vascular pathology in individuals with cardiovascular disease. (3,4) Emerging research now provides further evidence that what is good for the heart may also be good for the mind. Data from a double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot investigation was presented at ICPH by Dr. Robert Krikorian (Department of Psychiatry, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine) which demonstrated that drinking Concord grape juice was beneficial with respect to memory function.
In this investigation, 12 older adults with early memory changes were randomly assigned to consume either 100% Concord grape juice or a placebo beverage for 12 weeks. Each subject was assessed with measures of verbal and spatial memory before and after the intervention. While there were no differences between the groups at baseline, following the treatment, those consuming Concord grape juice demonstrated significant improvement in list learning (p= .04) and trends suggested improved short-term retention (p= .10) and spatial memory (p= .12).
Krikorian reported, "Our preliminary findings suggest that supplementation with Concord grape juice may provide benefit for older adults with early memory changes and increased risk for neurodegeneration." He added, "While further study is warranted to assess the potential of Concord grape juice to forestall progression of age-related memory decline, these results are very encouraging."
Keeping the Pressure Down
Large and small studies have tested whether people with elevated blood pressure, or hypertension, may be able to improve their blood pressure by consuming beverages rich in health promoting polyphenolic compounds, such as grape juice. However, some concerns have been raised about the levels of natural sugar present in 100% juice. Dr. Joseph Vita of Boston University School of Medicine shared the results of his randomized double-blind crossover study on blood pressure and fasting blood glucose with juice via a presentation at ICPH.
"Studies have shown that nocturnal blood pressure relates to cardiovascular health. Under healthy circumstances, blood pressure will dip down at night, a response known as nocturnal dipping. Evidence suggests that there is an association between the reduction or absence( )of this typical nocturnal dip and future cardiovascular events," explained Dr. Vita.
In a recent study, Vita compared the effects of Concord grape juice on blood pressure, fasting glucose and insulin levels to the effects of a calorie-matched, non-polyphenol-containing, placebo beverage. Study subjects included 64 men and women with pre-hypertension or stage 1 hypertension. None of the study participants were on antihypertensive medication. While this research did not find a significant decrease in 24 hour ambulatory blood pressure over the study period, several factors suggest that the consumption of Concord grape juice has effects that might be relevant to blood pressure control. The group drinking Concord grape juice experienced a larger nocturnal dip in blood pressure, while the placebo group experienced a reduction in the nocturnal dip.
Vita added, "This study demonstrated that compared to placebo, Concord grape juice supplementation had favorable effects on blood pressure regulation, while body weight, blood glucose and fasting insulin levels were not impacted."
More than a decade of cardiovascular research suggests that Concord grape juice can help promote a healthy heart and flexible arteries (3,4,5,6) which contributes to healthy arterial function, circulation and blood pressure. These results further demonstrate that dietary approaches to maintaining healthy blood pressure should not be overlooked.
Absorbing the Goodness of the Concord Grape
Concord grapes and grape juice have been linked to a number of benefits associated with healthy aging. However, very few studies have looked at the specific phytonutrients (plant nutrients) that may be responsible for these unearthed health effects. As part of the New Investigator Lecture at ICPH, Dr. Angelique Stalmach of the University of Glasgow shared her groundbreaking research that, for the first time, seeks to identify the beneficial compounds within Concord grape juice. Her work focuses not only on classifying the phytonutrients within this juice, but also on determining the metabolites of polyphenolic compounds that are absorbed by the body and thus are likely responsible for the health outcomes now associated with consuming Concord grape juice.
"A large percentage of the polyphenolic compounds found within Concord grape juice is classified as anthocyanins and hydroxycinnamate esters, and findings to date indicate that compounds in both groups are absorbed by the body, as noted by excretion of metabolized compounds. Further work is underway to examine in detail the metabolism and absorption of these and additional Concord grape-based compounds as it is evident that it is the metabolites that are responsible for the health outcomes observed in previous research, rather than the juice-based constituents themselves," explained Dr Stalmach.
Welch Foods Inc. is proud to support the International Conference on Polyphenols and Health. Welch's is also dedicated to investing in the promotion and expansion of the scientific understanding of nutrition.
Headquartered in Concord, Massachusetts, Welch's is the processing and marketing subsidiary of the National Grape Cooperative. Welch's is owned by nearly 1,200 family-farmers across America and in Ontario, Canada, who make up this cooperative, and who are responsible for growing the Concord and Niagara grapes which are pressed to produce Welch's juices and other grape-based products. At the heart of Welch's is 'Real. Grape. Goodness' which celebrates the delicious and inherently healthy Concord grape, and the family-farmer owners who grow it. Welch's Concord grapes are pressed, including the skin and seeds, within 8 hours of being harvested to capture the grapes' natural antioxidant power, and to ensure a premium quality product. Welch's 100% Grape Juice made from Concord grapes helps promote a healthy heart and arteries and maintain a healthy immune system. Welch's is committed to research and development which 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, visit http://www.welchs.com/healthprofessionals.aspx
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