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An amazing 80 percent of Americans are currently consuming, or would be interested in consuming, foods or beverages for health benefits, according to research presented last week at the fourth International Conference on Polyphenols and Health (ICPH). For adults of all ages, a desire to maintain overall wellness is of utmost importance and likely driving interest in these “functional foods.” The research further demonstrates that Concord grape juice may play a role in the preservation of health, by supporting blood pressure control and healthy brain function in certain populations.
New Food for Thought
Growing evidence suggests the consumption of antioxidant-rich foods and beverages, such as fruits and vegetables, and their 100 percent juices, may help slow and possibly even reverse age-related cognitive decline. Preliminary research from the Department of Psychiatry, University of Cincinnati, was presented by Dr. Robert Krikorian at the ICPH, which demonstrated that drinking Concord grape juice may provide a benefit for older adults with early memory decline.
Dr. Krikorian included 12 older adults with early memory loss in his study. Each participant drank 100 percent Concord grape juice or a calorie-matched placebo for 12 weeks, and was tested with measures of memory function including both verbal and nonverbal tasks. Krikorian reported, “While there were no differences between the groups at baseline, following treatment, those drinking Concord grape juice demonstrated significant improvement in list learning. In addition, trends suggested improved short-term retention and spatial (nonverbal) memory.” He added, “These results with Concord grape juice are very encouraging and certainly warrant additional study. A simple, easy-to-incorporate dietary intervention that could improve or protect memory function, such as drinking Concord grape juice, may be beneficial for the aging population.”
Power of the Concord Grape to Control Blood Pressure
Data demonstrates that nocturnal blood pressure (blood pressure at night) reflects cardiovascular health. Under healthy circumstances, blood pressure will dip down at night; this is known as nocturnal dipping. Evidence suggests that “non-dippers” have increased risk for future cardiovascular events. At the conference, Dr. Joseph Vita of Boston University School of Medicine presented data from a study that compared the effect of Concord grape juice on blood pressure, fasting blood glucose and insulin levels to the effects of a calorie-matched, non-polyphenol-containing placebo beverage. His study included 64 men and women with blood pressures classified as pre-hypertension or stage 1 hypertension. None of the study participants were on any medication for their elevated blood pressure.
While this research did not find a significant decrease in blood pressure using 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring, other results suggested that the consumption of Concord grape juice may have a beneficial impact on blood pressure control. This study showed that drinking Concord grape juice had favorable effects on nocturnal blood pressure, while body weight, blood glucose and fasting insulin levels were not impacted. The placebo had the opposite effect, with a rise both in nocturnal blood pressure and fasting glucose.
More than a decade of cardiovascular research suggests that Concord grape juice can help promote a healthy heart and flexible arteries, which contribute to healthy arterial function, circulation and blood pressure. These results further demonstrate that dietary approaches to maintaining healthy blood pressure should not be overlooked.
Welch Foods Inc. is proud to support the International Conference on Polyphenols and Health, and is dedicated to investing in the promotion and expansion of the scientific understanding of food and nutrition.