Grapes
 

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 defend against a variety of age-related and other illnesses.

Research is ongoing to uncover just how grapes may deliver these benefits.  Studies suggest that the grape polyphenols, which are also antioxidants, may help protect the health and function of our cells in multiple ways.

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:

 

Grapes and Heart Health

Numerous studies on grapes and grape products, including table grapes, grape juice and wine, suggest that grapes contribute to heart health1.  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 trigger important processes in the body.

Some of the ways in which grapes may help maintain heart health are:2

*Improving blood vessel function and blood flow, which can lower blood pressure

*Reducing oxidative stress and inflammation (both underlying factors in heart disease)

*Preventing oxidation of LDL cholesterol

*Helping to prevent the formation of blood clots

*Improvement of blood lipids, such as triglycerides

For a look at some grape study details on heart health, click here.

Grapes and Age-Related and Other Illnesses

Emerging research suggests that grapes may help defend against a variety of age-related and other illnesses.  For example:

Eye Health

A grape-enriched diet prevented blindness in mice 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

Brain Health

Grape consumption protected brain neurons in gerbils from oxidative damage and cell death, and decreased inflammation.4

Mice consuming a grape-enriched diet increased the expression of critical target genes that block the Alzheimer’s pathway and decrease inflammation in the brain.5

Bladder Health

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

Cell Inflammation

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

 Diabetes

A grape-enriched diet prevented inflammatory damage to insulin producing cells, and thus significantly reduced the onset of autoimmune diabetes in mice.11

Joint Health/Arthritis

Grapes decreased pain associated with arthritis and enhanced the impact of anti-inflammatory medicine in an animal study.12

Cancer

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, grapes helped protect healthy colon 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.

2 Ibid.

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 “Grape-enriched diet upregulates transthyretin in aged mice.”  Presented by Dr. Nancy Berman at the 2007 Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in San Diego, California.

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 Findings presented at the Society for Neuroscience 2008 conference in Washington DC.  Presentation made by Dr. Jasenka Borzan,

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.