CONCORD, Mass., Feb 24, 2006 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Consuming Concord grape juice significantly improved the short-term memory and certain neuro-motor skills that decline with aging in a study of laboratory animals published in the March issue of the journal Nutrition.
The study replicated effects of aging seen in humans by putting mature rats, approaching the end of their expected life spans, through a range of tests and challenges that measure changes in short-term memory and neuro-motor skills.
"Concord grape juice appeared to enhance cognitive and some motor skills in the test animals. In many of the tests we saw significant improvements or trends toward improvement," said James Joseph, Ph.D., chief of the neurosciences laboratory at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University and the lead researcher in the study.
"As our population ages, we are continually looking for ways to maintain our mental and physical skills," Joseph noted. "While these laboratory animal studies are certainly preliminary and much more work needs to be done, we know that consuming high levels of natural dietary antioxidants is a good thing from a number of perspectives. And it appears that drinking Concord grape juice has the potential to help retard the mental and physical declines of aging."
The decline in both cognitive function and motor skills associated with aging is thought to be due to an increase in oxidative stress and inflammation. "It seems logical that age-related deficits in behavior and brain function could be retarded by consuming foods high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds," Joseph explained. Such foods include those high in polyphenols, plant compounds that give fruits and vegetables their vibrant colors. "It seems that those with very intense color, like berry fruits and Concord grapes, are the most efficacious," he added.
When compared to previously published USDA studies, Concord grape juice has one of the highest total antioxidant levels of all foods.
The study was funded by the USDA Agricultural Research Service, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and a grant from Welch Foods Inc.
Welch's is the world's leading marketer of Concord and Niagara grape-based products, including grape juice and jelly. The company produces a variety of other fruit-based products, including 100 percent juices, juice cocktails, and drinks in the following forms: single serve, bottled, refrigerated, and frozen and shelf-stable concentrates. In addition, Welch's produces a number of fruit spread products under both the Welch's and BAMA brand names. Welch's Web site can be found at http://www.welchs.com.