Research Links Concord Grape Juice to Cognitive Function Benefits & More
November 13, 2015 – Nearly 20 years of research says that 100% grape juice made with Concord grapes helps support a healthy heart – likely because of the plant nutrients, or polyphenols, found naturally in this grape and its juice.1 Two new studies, just presented among the world’s most prominent polyphenol researchers at the International Conference of Polyphenols and Health (ICPH), build on this evidence, suggesting additional health benefits of Concord grapes and reinforcing grape juice’s role as a nutritious beverage choice.
Polyphenols Found in Grape Juice May Moderate Absorption of Naturally Occurring Sugars
Unlike sugar-sweetened drinks with added sugars, 100% grape juice is a nutrient-dense beverage that delivers naturally occurring fruit sugars in combination with health-promoting plant nutrients, including polyphenols. Recent research has suggested that polyphenols in certain fruits may moderate glycemic response, but Concord and Niagara grapes’ impact on blood sugar had not yet been explored.
Using a series of laboratory techniques that simulate the human gut and intestine, researchers at Purdue University examined how the polyphenols in Concord and Niagara grape juices may impact the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates and possibly modify changes in blood sugar after consumption. The results of this pre-clinical study suggest that polyphenols naturally present in grape juice can slow the absorption of the naturally occurring sugars present in the juice.2 Therefore, drinking 100% grape juice versus a sugar-sweetened beverage may result in a modestly lower glycemic response, which can contribute to long-term health.
According to Purdue researcher Dr. Mario Ferruzzi: “This work is interesting given the growing dialogue around sugar-containing beverages and health. While more research is clearly needed, this preliminary study further highlights the distinction between sugar-sweetened drinks and 100% fruit juice, like grape juice, which deliver a mixture of polyphenols and natural sugars.”
Daily Consumption of Concord Grape Juice May Benefit Cognitive Function & Driving Performance
Concord grape juice has been shown to not only deliver cardiovascular benefits, but also positively impact memory in older adults with early cognitive decline.3-4
Now, new research, out of the University of Leeds, found for the first time that the cognitive benefits associated with drinking Concord grape juice extend beyond older adults. In particular, these new findings suggest that drinking Concord grape juice daily can benefit certain aspects of memory and everyday tasks in people with stressful lifestyles – specifically working moms.5
In this study, 25 healthy, 40- to 50-year-old working women with pre-teen children were enrolled in a randomized, double-blind, cross-over trial in which they drank Concord grape juice and a grape-flavored, sugar-sweetened drink (the placebo) for 12 weeks each. Over the duration of the study, the women participated in a series of tests designed to assess their cognitive performance, including a 25-minute driving simulator challenge in which they were asked to match the speed and direction of a lead vehicle. Significant improvements in immediate spatial memory and driving performance were both seen when the moms drank 12 ounces of Concord grape juice daily versus when they consumed the placebo.
“The results of this study are very encouraging,” said Dr. Daniel Lamport from the University of Leeds. “This preliminary research suggests that the cognitive benefits associated with Concord grape juice are not exclusive to adults with early memory decline and that young, healthy adults may also benefit from drinking this juice daily.”
- Vislocky LM and Fernandez ML. Grapes and Grape Products: Their Role in Health. Nutr Today. 2013. 48(1):47-51.
- Moser SE, Lim J, Wightman JD, Hamaker BR, Ferruzzi MG. Modulation of intestinal glucose update by phenolics rich Concord and Niagara grape juices in a coupled in vitro digestion/Caco-2 model system. Presented at The International Conference of Polyphenols and Health 2015. Tours, France. October 27-30, 2015.
- Krikorian R, Boespflug EL, Fleck DE, Stein AL, Wightman JD, Shidler MD and Sadat-Hossieny S. Concord grape juice supplementation and neurocognitive function in human aging. J Agric Food Chem. 2012. 60(23):5736-5742.
- 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.
- Lamport DJ, Lawton CL, Merat N, Jamson H, Myrissa K, Hofman D, Chadwick HK, Quadt F, Wightman JD, Dye L. Concord grape juice, cognitive function and driving performance: a 12 week, placebo controlled, randomised crossover trial in mothers of pre-teen children. Presented at The International Conference of Polyphenols and Health 2015. Tours, France. October 27-30, 2015.