Grape expectations: Tiny fruit holds huge age-related health benefits

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Grape expectations: Tiny fruit holds huge age-related health benefits
Grape expectations: Tiny fruit holds huge age-related health benefits

They say that an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but two new reports suggest that grapes may help stave off death itself.

First, researchers in Florida and Wisconsin have found that "resveratrol," a protein found in grapes, red wines and other foods, has a significant positive effect on heart-health in old age. According to researchers, low doses of the antioxidant also have remarkably similar effects to those of caloric restriction, a diet with 20% to 30% fewer calories than a normal diet. Caloric restriction has been widely studied and found to increase longevity in all kinds of animals and humans.

Also, scientists at the University of Cincinnati have concluded a study of the effect of grape juice on age-related memory problems. Twelve adults with early memory decline were given either 15 to 21 ounces of grape juice or a placebo every day for 12 weeks. Although both contained similar levels of sugar and calories, only the grape juice contained natural antioxidants. The juice drinkers showed significant improvements in their ability to retain information, according to study author Robert Krikorian.

The Florida/Wisconsin study appears in this week's online issue of the journal Public Library of Science. The results of the Cincinnati study were presented to members of the American Aging Association at their annual meeting in Boulder, CO, earlier this month.