WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
New research suggests that drinking Concord grape juice can benefit cognitive function and driving performance.1
WHAT THIS MEANS
Stress can contribute to many problems, from physical ailments to forgetting important tasks to becoming distracted behind the wheel. Nonetheless, most of us need to manage the stress in our life because eliminating its root causes is not an option. Some research has suggested that a somewhat untapped possibility in this regard can be found in the foods and beverages we choose on a daily basis. For instance, more and more research suggests that increasing consumption of a group of naturally occurring plant nutrients referred to as polyphenols might improve cognitive function and memory. However, whether this benefit occurs in stressed individuals has not been rigorously tested in clinical trials. To help fill this research gap, a group of scientists led by Louise Dye (University of Leeds, United Kingdom) studied the effects of consuming polyphenol-rich Concord grape juice in one of today’s most stressed groups of individuals: working mothers.
Researchers recruited healthy working mothers, between 40 and 50 years old, who were parents of a preteen child, and who were employed at least 30 hours per week. The mothers were divided into two separate groups, each given a different beverage to consume daily for 3 months. One group was given 12 ounces of Concord grape juice, which is naturally very rich in polyphenols; the other group was given 12 ounces of a purple-colored, sugar-sweetened, grape-flavored beverage. After 3 months of consuming their assigned beverage, there was a month-long “washout” period where the mothers did not consume either beverage. At the end of the washout period, the mothers given the Concord grape juice were given the grape-flavored purple beverage and vice versa. At the beginning, middle and end of the study, each mother underwent cognitive testing to assess memory, including verbal recall, spatial recall, psychomotor skill and executive function. In addition, the mothers’ driving performance was evaluated to determine the Concord grape juice’s impact on their ability to safely and effectively operate a vehicle. The driving test was administered through a 25-minute virtual driving scenario, including a 25-minute driving simulator challenge in which they were asked to match the speed and direction of a lead vehicle.
The results of the study demonstrated that certain aspects of memory, specifically immediate spatial memory and driving performance, were enhanced drinking Concord grape juice daily. Moreover, these benefits appeared to continue even after they stopped drinking the real juice, suggesting a possible prolonged benefit on cognitive wellbeing. The benefit from the Concord grape juice is thought to come from its high polyphenol content. Concord grape juice has been shown to provide cardiovascular benefits, as well as positively affect memory in older adults with early memory decline. This new research builds on previous studies, suggesting that the cognitive benefits associated with Concord grape juice are not exclusive to older adults.
Fruits like Concord grapes, cherries, and berries are some of the richest sources of polyphenols.2, 3 The best way to increase your fruit and veggie consumption is by filling half your plate with fruits and veggies at every meal and snack. This can include 6-12 ounces of 100% grape juice made from Concord grapes daily. This is also a great time of year to buy fresh produce at great prices.
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