Grapes and Health - Research Highlights
Over a decade of research suggests that grapes may offer intriguing health-promoting possibilities. Specifically, research suggests that grapes help support heart health and may help promote long-term health.
Research is ongoing to uncover just how grapes may deliver these benefits. Studies suggest that grape polyphenols, which can also act as antioxidants, may help protect the health and function of our cells in multiple ways, contributing to antioxidant action and influencing an array of cell communications that affect important biological processes.
Current areas of research include heart, eye, brain, joint, cell health and more, which will result in a steady stream of new findings. Good science takes time, but already a solid foundation of evidence on grapes and health is in place.
Some research highlights from table grape studies are presented below and provide an illustration of the multi-faceted ways through which grape consumption may benefit health. These emerging studies reflect a mix of human, animal and cell studies, and provide valuable information for future research.
Grapes and Heart Health
Numerous studies on grapes and grape products, including table grapes, grape juice and wine, suggest that grapes contribute to heart health.1 This benefit is typically attributed to the polyphenols present in the grape. The actions of grape polyphenols are multi-faceted, and range from antioxidant activities to the influencing of cell communications that impact important processes in the body.
Human studies have shown that eating a variety of grapes may help maintain a healthy heart2 by promoting the relaxation of blood vessels to help maintain healthy blood flow and function. Additionally, studies suggest that grapes impact other aspects of heart health as well.
For a look at some grape study details on heart health, click here.
Heart-healthy Grapes and Healthy Aging
Emerging research suggests that grapes may help maintain health in a variety of ways.
A grape-enriched diet prevented blindness in animals prone to developing retinal damage in old age, by protecting the retina from oxidative damage. In this study, grapes offered greater protection than lutein.3
Adding grapes to the diet protected brain neurons from oxidative damage and cell death, and decreased inflammation in animals.4
A grape-enriched diet helped protect against oxidative stress-related anxiety, memory and high blood pressure in an animal study.5
In a series of animal studies, a grape-enriched diet helped protect bladder function against oxidative damage caused by obstruction to the bladder.6 7 8
In a recent cell study, grape extract helped to reduce inflammation and insulin resistance mediated by both immune cells and fat cells, and preserved cell function. Obesity and type 2 diabetes are both linked to chronic inflammation in fat tissue.9
In grape and heart health studies, a reduction in inflammation is frequently demonstrated.10
A grape-enriched diet prevented inflammatory damage to insulin producing cells, and thus significantly reduced the onset of autoimmune diabetes in animals.11
In an animal model for menopause, a grape-enriched diet helped improve calcium utilization and suppress bone turnover, resulting in improvements in bone quality.12
The role of grapes in maintaining cell health to prevent the development of cancer is another area of scientific interest, with promising, preliminary work in the areas of breast, prostate and colon cancers.13
In a small human study of colon cancer patients, a grape-enriched diet helped maintain healthy colon tissue, while no significant impact was seen in cancerous tissue.14
For a look at some of the grape study details of these emerging areas of research, click here.
1 Vislocky LM, Fernandez ML. Biomedical effects of grape products. Nutrition Reviews. 2010, Vol 68(11):656-670.
3 Yu,C.-C: et al., Dietary antioxidants prevent age-related retinal pigment epithelium damage and blindness in mice lacking the αvβ5integrin, Free Radic. Biol. Med. (2011).
4 Wang Q, Sun AY, et al. Dietary grape supplement ameliorates cerebral ischemia-induced neuronal death in gerbils. Mol Nutr Food Res. May 2005, 49(5):443-51.
5 Allam F et al. Grape Powder Supplementation Prevents Oxidative Stress-Induced Anxiety-Like Behavior, Memory Impairment and High Blood Pressure in Rats. J Nutrition. Doi:10.3945/jn.113174649.
6 Agartan, CA, et al. Protection of urinary bladder function by grape suspension. Phytother Res. 2004, 18;(12):1013-18.
7 Lin A, et al. Protective Effects of Grape Suspension on In Vivo Ischemia/Reperfusion of the Rabbit Bladder. BJU Intl. Dec 2005, 96(9)1397-402.
8 Venugopal V, Levin RM, et al. Effect of Hydrogen Peroxide on Rabbit Urinary Bladder Citrate Synthase Activity in the Presence and Absence of a Grape Suspension. International Braz J Urol. Nov/Dec 2010, Vol. 36(6):749 – 758.
9 Overman A, McIntosh MK, et.al. Polyphenol-rich grape powder extract (GPE) attenuates inflammation in human macrophages and in human adipocytes exposed to macrophage-conditioned media. International J Obesity. January 2010:1-9.
10 Vislocky LM, Fernandez ML. Biomedical effects of grape products. Nutrition Reviews. 2010, Vol 68(11):656-670.
11 Zunino, SJ. Diets rich in polyphenols and vitamin A inhibit the development of Type 1 autoimmune diabetes in non-obese diabetic mice. J Nutr. 2007,137:1216-1221.
12 Hohman, EE and Weaver, CM. A Grape-enriched diet increases bone calcium retention and cortical bone properties in ovariectomized rats. J Nutr. 2015 Feb;145(2)253-9. doi:10.3945/jn.114.198598. Epub 2014 Dec 3.
13 Vislocky LM, Fernandez ML. Biomedical effects of grape products. Nutrition Reviews. 2010, Vol 68(11):656-670.
14 Nguyen AV, Holcombe RF, et al. Results of a phase I pilot clinical trial examining the effect of plant-derived resveratrol and grape powder on Wnt pathway target gene expression in colonic mucosa and colon cancer. Cancer Manag Res. 2009:I 1-9.