Most people are aware of the health benefits of drinking wine, but sipping a cup of Concord grape juice has some health benefits of its own. Plus, it’s alcohol-free which makes it a better choice for women since recent studies show that drinking alcohol is associated with a higher risk of breast cancer. A new study now suggests that drinking grape juice may be of benefit to older people too – by helping to boost their memory.
In a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, researchers found that drinking grape juice helps improve memory in older people with mild memory impairment. Not only did drinking grape juice improve memory in this small group of older people, it also increased their spatial and verbal recall skills as well as their overall cognitive function. This is certainly good news for the older population where up to one in four people of retirement age or older has some degree of mild memory impairment.
This isn’t the first study to show that drinking grape juice helps memory. Studies in the laboratory show that animals given Concord grape juice not only perform better in maze tests that require memory skills, but also show greater coordination and balance.
Concord grape juice – a type of grape juice made from grapes that are deep blue or purple in colour – was used in these studies. The deep pigmentation of these grapes comes from the polyphenols they contain. Concord grape juice has one of the highest antioxidant levels of any fruit or vegetable which likely accounts for its positive effects on the brain.
The brain uses a great deal of oxygen and, when it does, free radicals form that can damage the brain and affect memory. Drinking grape juice may offset some of this free radical damage and help to protect the brain from injury. It even appears that antioxidants such as those obtained from drinking grape juice may allow the brain to recover some of its lost function – good news for those with memory impairment.
Should you start your day with a glass of Concord grape juice if you want a sharper memory? While there have been no large human studies looking at whether drinking grape juice improves memory, these preliminary studies look promising. Drinking grape juice offers little downside unless you buy it with added sugar. Most stores now sell grape juice with no added sugar which is the best way to get its health benefits. If you’re drinking too many soft drinks, why not substitute grape juice instead?