SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Love grapes? You’ll love this study then. Snacking on grapes could potentially add up to five years to your life, research suggests. Scientists behind the study at Western New England University describe the results as “astonishing.”
Grapes are rich in chemicals that boost gut bacteria and lower cholesterol. They also contain antioxidants that dampen inflammation, reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer.
Researchers posit that eating grapes regularly could combat the effects of a junk food diet. The juicy “superfood” flushes out refined fats and sugars in processed foods, scientists say. The research was partly funded by The California Table Grape Commission, who provided the grapes used in the experiments.
“It adds an entirely new dimension to the old saying ‘you are what you eat,’” says study co-author Dr. John Pezzuto, in a statement. Grapes actually change the expression of genes, explains the professor of pharmaceutics, who has authored over 600 scientific studies. “That is truly remarkable,” he adds.
In a series of experiments, mice gorged on a high-fat diet typically consumed in western countries. They also received a daily powdered grape supplement equivalent to a small container of the fruit. Results show the lab rodents had less fatty liver and lived longer than peers. “The change observed in the study would correspond to an additional four to five years in the life of a human,” says Pezzuto.
Eating grapes boosts brain and liver health, too
The team also finds that grapes improve the function of neurons, protecting against Alzheimer’s disease. They had positive effects on behavior and cognition that were impaired in mice fed high fat diets without the extract.
A third study shows that in addition to the other qualities, grapes also help burn up calories by increasing metabolism. In particular, they may help prevent Alzheimer’s and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), both of which have been linked to eating junk foods.
“The adverse response was diminished by grape intervention. Life-long survival was also enhanced,” says Pezzuto. “These results suggest the potential of dietary grapes to modulate gene expression, prevent oxidative damage, induce fatty acid metabolism, ameliorate NAFLD and increase longevity when co-administered with a high-fat diet.”
Liver disease is a growing problem across the world, because of unhealthy eating habits.
“These data illustrate the extraordinary influence of nutrigenomics, a burgeoning field of investigation that will augment our appreciation of diet and health,” adds Pezzuto.
Recent research also shows that eating grapes reduces the risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke. Chinese scientists are currently working on a “fountain of youth” pill – based on grapes.
South West News Service writer Mark Waghorn contributed to this report.