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Grape juice may boost memory in elderly: Study

By staff reporter , 08-Jan-2010

Daily consumption of Concord grape juice may enhance memory in older people with mild impairment in the brain function, says a new study from the US.

Improved verbal learning and enhanced verbal and spatial recall were observed following a 12 week randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial with Concord grape juice.

Scientists from the University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center, and the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging and Tufts University report their findings in the British Journal of Nutrition.

Researchers led by Dr Robert Krikorian are careful to note that results from their small study – only 12 older adults with memory decline but not dementia were studied – should “establish a basis for more comprehensive investigations to evaluate potential benefit and assess mechanisms of action”.

Concord grape juice is a rich source of polyphenols, potent antioxidants that 'mop up' harmful reactive oxygen species that have been identified as key to the aging process. Previous research has linked polyphenols, such as catechins, epicatechins, and anthocyanins to protecting against various cancers and heart disease.

A previous study by Tufts researchers reported that Concord grape juice appeared to reverse the course of neuronal and behavioural aging in rats (Nutrition, 2006, Vol. 22, pp. 295-302). The new study reports similar findings in ageing humans.

“We observed significant improvement in a measure of verbal learning and non-significant enhancement of verbal and spatial recall,” reported Krikorian and his co-workers.

No effects on symptoms of depression, or weight or waist circumference were recorded by the researchers.

“These preliminary findings suggest that supplementation with Concord grape juice may enhance cognitive function for older adults with early memory decline,” they concluded.

Source: British Journal of Nutrition
Published online ahead of print, First View Article, doi:10.1017/S0007114509992364
“Concord grape juice supplementation improves memory function in older adults with mild cognitive impairment”
Authors: Robert Krikorian, Tiffany A. Nash, Marcelle D. Shidler, Barbara Shukitt-Hale and James A. Joseph

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