Health Benefits of Concord Grapes

Healthy Grape Juice

100% Concord grape juice from Growers Co-op is one of the most heart healthy beverages you can buy. While health is viewed in the context of the whole diet and many other factors, specific foods can make important contributions to one’s health. The antioxidants in Concord grape juice can help maintain heart health, in addition to tasting great.

The French Paradox

For starters, a little history: By the 1980s, health researchers knew that people who ate diets high in saturated (and now trans fat) had higher instances of coronary heart disease. (Why you avoid fried foods, right?) The traditional French diet was an oddity – it was much higher in saturated fats, but people did not suffer as many heart attacks. As Morley Safer said on the TV show 60 Minutes in November, 1991, “if you’re a middle age American man, your chances of dying of a heart attack are three times greater than a French man of the same age.”1 He further stated that, “Alcohol – in particular red wine – reduces the risk of heart disease.”1 In addition to more saturated fat, the French consumed lots more wine than Americans, and many of the wines were reds. Something in red wine was protecting French hearts. It was called the French Paradox.

Since then, there has been more research into the specific components of red wine, and alcohol has lost credence as the heart healthy compound. Scientists now think that heart health is more related to the complex carbohydrates called polyphenols. Polyphenols (also called flavonoids) are complex carbohydrates formed as the grape grows. Since polyphenols are made by the grape, they remain even if the juice is not fermented. Some polyphenols are colored and are called anthocyanins, which give Concord grapes their dark purple color. In a plant, polyphenols protect it from too much sun, attack by pests, and aid its metabolism. In people, polyphenols help maintain a healthy heart by acting as antioxidants.

>> Next: What are Antioxidants and Resveratrol?

References:
1. http://www.marininstitute.org/alcohol_policy/french_drinking.htm; accessed 4/13/09.