Concord Grape Juice enhances memory

Dr. Weeks’ Comment:   Few people know (and far fewer care) about the fact that I was born and raised in the cradle of the American revolution:  Concord Massachusetts.

I remember as a child exploring the undulating the fields of battle and imagining the heroics of  the farmers in militia who faced the most powerful  fighting force on earth at that time: the British Army. I recall the role of two heroic doctors, Samuel Prescott who warned that the British were coming and Dr. Joseph Warren who risked his life on the battle field both fighting and caring for wounded.  I remember that when the day ended in revolutionary triumph,  the Brits reported 73 dead, 174 wounded and 26 missing compared to the Concord men suffering 49 dead, 39 wounded and 5 missing.  The “rude bridge” which Ralph Waldo Emerson,  the Sage of Concord, immortalized in verse, still “arches the flood ”  and the land is alive with memories.

But  more poignantly than memories of heroics, I remember the taste of the wild Concord grapes which hung from vines draped across fences and  trees generously upon the landscape.  The wild Concord grape which nourished both fighting and wounded soldiers on the 19th of April in  1775  nourished me 2 centuries later.

Grapes are a delicious gift of fruit – the big, fat walnut sized specimen found on Thanksgiving tables ,  the tiny sweet champagne grapes, the sweet Muscat desert grapes, Vitus rotundifolia – all are a delight,  but  Vitus labrusca, the Concord Grape is my favorite.  I remember its taste well –

Now we have research explaining WHY I remember it well:  the Concord grape, we learn,  enhances memory in the elderly!    What better way to help preserve memories!  Take a walk down memory lane – as I did, and bring some Concord grape juice.

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Grape juice may boost memory in elderly: Study “Concord grape juice supplementation improves memory function in older adults with mild cognitive impairment”

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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